It is well said that you cannot gather “grapes from thorns, nor figs form thistles.” It is also said that you cannot make a “wild goose lay a tame egg.” It is also ordained that the fruit tree yielding fruit after its kind, whose seed is in itself “shall continue to do so.” It is a divine, as well as a natural law that likes produce likes in all normal processes, not alone in the vegetable, but in the animal kingdom. This being true, mankind has always been mankind since he came from the hands of the creator. A monkey or an ape has always been a monkey and an ape, and will so continue— and hence man did not evolve from the monkey. With this foundation let us ask what is a child.
A child is the product of two natures male and female, and every child inherits, by its birth the same divine, as well as natural order. The life forces are the same, and the mental and moral natures are products as well as the physical. Size, shape, color, physical, and physical are similar to the parent, and any endeavor to alter these is more or less abortive.
Some of the rules established in Government Schools as to the weight and measure of the child are arbitrary, and are causes of much anxiety and disappointment in parents. You cannot expect a peach tree, no matter how thrifty and healthy, to reach the height, size, and strength of the might oak, nor can you, by any process of nature, make a Shetland pony equal size, weight, and strength of well-natured Norman horse.
The physical ills of the child, particularly the disease tendency, is inherited from both parents, and this tendency may reach back to the third or fourth generation. In moderate sized families some children tend to certain forms of illness, while others seem immune from these tendencies. The reason for this is unknown, though many conjectures are given.
The only solution apparent is to note the state of health before and during gestation. This will be difficult to determine, for the reason that parents give but scant thought to the reading of children and the psychical health of the child. In a hightempered, irritable father, and a mild, submissive mother, you rarely find two children in such a family alike physically or mentally.
With this brief premise, you will permit me to say that every pediatrician who aspires to success in the treatment of childrens diseases must, before making a choice of therapeutic measures, study with scrupulous care the health, and disease tendencies of both parents, and where possible of grandparents, for we have unmistakable evidences of children, not only resembling one or the other grandparent, physically, but mentally as well, with a like disposition to certain forms of illness.
It is not alone sufficient to prescribe more or less skillfully for an acute attack of tonsillitis, but much more skillful if the prescription will remove the tendency to recurrent tonsillitis. The palliation of acute attacks until pathology is formed, and then removal, surgically, of this pathology is far from skillful and utterly unscientific. There is no greater science than truth, there is no greater evidence of the truthfulness of truth than the fact that it works and when the truth of an underlying basis of disease is known, there is nothing more skillful in practice than the removal of this underlying disease base.
Where this is not done, there is recurrent pain and indisposition, impaired mental and physical efficiency, and hastened dissolution of soul and body. The child deserves and is entitled to the greatest skill man possesses, for his life is made efficient and happy, or inefficient and unhappy, by the use or non-use of this skill. If we desire future generations of strong men and women, mentally and physically, it is imperative that we begin at once, logically, sensibly, and scientifically to correct defects of inheritance and environment, and do this in the most rational manner possible.
For our responsibility is great, not alone in the eyes of our commonwealth, but in the eyes of God, to whom the child belongs. He who is not willing to search into the reasons of a sick child and try to prevent mental and physical catastrophe has no right, legal, moral, or scientific, to assume the responsibility of a pediatrician, or the name of a physician in fact. For every man and woman is a child until they have passed the “three score and ten,” and each must have the same individual care and study, and therapeutics indicated in his or her peculiar individual illness and ill tendencies.