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November 27, 1915


JAMA. 1915;LXV(22):1916-1917. doi:10.1001/jama.1915.02580220056022

Modern science has clearly demonstrated that many conditions once ascribed to hereditary factors can no longer be regarded as inherited. The overwhelming majority of the cases cited as instances of the influence of maternal and paternal impressions on bodily features are clearly not cases of inheritance in the strict sense; for the "impression" has almost always been reported to occur after conception. Mutilations are no longer believed to be capable of transmission by inheritance. More significant than all of these instances, however, is the demonstration, due to the modern science of bacteriology, that there is no such thing as the true inheritance of specific infectious diseases. The accepted etiologic rôle of micro-organisms in these pathologic conditions has excluded the possibility of a hereditary smallpox, tuberculosis or syphilis, for example. At first, when the untenability of the older views became apparent, it was customary to refer to the inheritance of a

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