Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 15.djvu/449

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AUGUST, 1879.

By J. R. BLACK, M. D.

A LIMITED collection of statistics and the observation of physicians concur in showing that about two thirds of our people inherit a tendency to some disease, or to a defective vitality in some organ of the body. In very many instances the overshadowing heritage is toward an untimely death, while in others it is simply toward some chronic insufficiency which embitters many a year of life.

The number who think themselves doomed to a premature death by some innate blood defect is very great. At this moment hundreds of thousands are ready to interpret every sign of thoracic derangement as the harbinger to the development of that dreaded inheritance—pulmonary consumption. Taking into consideration that, according to the last census, about seventy thousand throughout our land are swept into the grave each year by this disease, cause for alarm seems sufficiently ample. The aggregate of foreboding, of suffering, and of heart-wringing grief at untimely separations through this scourge alone, would be terrible to contemplate were we capable of apprehending it as a whole. Add to this the heritage in numerous instances of a tendency to rheumatism, to gout, to epilepsy, to insanity, to cancel, and the host of those distressed in mind or in body attains a painful magnitude. A subordinate and large group of heritages are yet to be added. Every year thousands are brought into the world with digestive organs so imperfect that the slightest indiscretion precipitates misery; others are tormented for life by the development of an inherited tendency to migraine, to neuralgia, or to asthma; and not a few through the same agency lose their sight or their hearing during the prime of life.