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September 19, 1903


JAMA. 1903;XLI(12):728. doi:10.1001/jama.1903.02490310032005

Those persons who are wont to strengthen a comfortable optimism by extracting sunshine from cucumbers have often urged the view that the high infant mortality that is so characteristic of city life in our time is, from the racial standpoint, not altogether deplorable. The specious argument runs that through the stress of environmental conditions the weaker individuals in each generation are eliminated during the period of infancy, and that, therefore, the adult population in those districts where infant mortality is high must be more vigorous than if the weaklings were able to develop to maturity. It has been asserted that in places having a high infant mortality, the mortality in the succeeding years of childhood is actually lower, the average fitness of the male population for military service greater and tuberculosis less prevalent. Statistical evidence has been adduced in support of this view, especially by Oesterlen, who has maintained with

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