Full text: papers communicated to the first International Eugenics Congress held at the University of London, July 24th to 30th, 1912

L. Querton.Practical Eugenics.i47 
The direct struggle against the hereditary transmission of abnormalities 
presents still great practical difficulties, but it is possible to combat to a 
certain extent the causes of the anomalies which unfold in the course of the 
development of the individual, and which depend on the conditions under 
which this development takes place. These conditions themselves depend on 
the physical and the social environment which, in consequence of their 
growing complexity, may create ever increasing obstacles to the normal 
evolution of the individual, while at the same time they compel him to 
acquire ever greater and more varied powers of accommodation. In order to 
combat the harmful effect of environment on the development of the 
individual, it seems that what matters the most is to organize the control of 
this development systematically. 
It is not difficult to show that systematic observation of the child would 
enable us to prove in many cases the absolute or relative insufficiency of the 
reproductive fitness of the parents, resulting from the existence of disease, 
from a transmissible defect, or from ignorance of the conditions capable of 
altering, at any rate temporarily, the physiological equilibrium of the 
parents, and of leading to the production in the child of more or less 
important anomalies. 
How many times does not the medical man assist without choice at the 
births of children, one after another fated to disease or degeneracy, most 
often as a result of syphilis, of alcoholism, or simply through the poor 
physical condition of the parents. How many times is the medical man 
consulted by young parents whose eugenic education is nil, and who are 
alarmed by the proofs of abnormalities appearing in the course of the 
development of their first child. 
By a regular control of the development it would often be possible to 
ascertain the dangers of the hereditary transmission of diseases and defects, 
and it would often be possible to prevent the effects of these by putting a 
stop to new births when the production of degenerates is certain. 
The organisation of the control would facilitate also the spread of the 
elementary ideas of eugenics, the knowledge of which would ensure to a 
certain extent the prevention of the avoidable consequences of a reproductive 
unfitness of the parents, either temporary or permanent. 
It is not to be doubted that by making the methodical inspection of the 
child more general we could facilitate the determination of the measures to 
be taken in order to ensure in human society a relative “ selection,” and 
thus to approach the eugenic ideal anticipated by Galton. 
The anomalies in the development of the child are often the consequence 
of the inadequacy of the educative fitness of the parents. And if it is true 
that it is still actually difficult to grasp the possibility of fighting 
systematically against degeneracy due to heredity, it seems as if the struggle l 2

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