JAMA 100 Years Ago Section Editor: Jennifer Reiling, Assistant Editor.
A few years ago it was the custom to think that a certain number of diseases which are rather common in Europe occurred much more rarely in this country. Such views even crept into the text-books and became the standard teaching to such an extent that most of us have come to accept them as supposedly founded on careful observation. With the progress of time and more critical sifting of medical literature and statistics, most of these nosologic differences supposed to be in favor of this country have proved to be unfounded. For instance, there was a very general impression in this country that gout was extremely rare in America as compared to its prevalence in England. When gout was suspected here great care was exercised in trying to trace it to hereditary origin in some English ancestor, and in many minds the final diagnosis was often considered dubious unless this element could be found in the history. The statistics of Johns Hopkins Hospital, however, kept carefully for fifteen years, show that gout is not nearly so rare in the United States as has been thought, that as a matter of fact for every four cases of gout admitted to St. Bartholomew's Hospital in London (due allowance being made for the comparative number of patients in both hospitals) three were admitted to Johns Hopkins. There is only 25 per cent. less gout in Baltimore, then, than in London, and there is no special reason why Baltimore should have more cases than any other American city. Gout, in America as well as in England, is not inherited, but is the result of the life led, as a rule.
COMPARATIVE FREQUENCY OF DISEASES HERE AND ABROAD. JAMA. 2006;296(4):457. doi:10.1001/jama.296.4.457
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