Full text: Problems in eugenics

D. C. Gini.Sociology and Eugenics.323 
of offspring. Some researches conducted by Ewart on the stature of 
children according to month of birth, and other researches on the month of 
birth of illustrious men, seem to show indeed the favourable influence of 
spring on the physical development and on the intellectual quality of those 
conceived. But Ewart’s researches are founded on too small a number of 
observations, and the influence of the month of birth on the frequency of 
the appearance of illustrious men is not sufficiently defined to be admitted 
without other investigations. 
It has, on the contrary, been ascertained that births occurring in those 
seasons of the year when extremes of climatic conditions are experienced 
are injuriously affected by that fact. Those conceived in spring, being born 
in winter, find themselves at the commencement of their lives subjected to an 
unfavourable environment which, at least so far as Rome is concerned, not 
only increases immediate mortality, but also seems to diminish vitality 
in after life. There is, therefore, no reason to think that the fact that the 
human species reproduces itself at all seasons of the year should have 
any directly deleterious consequences on the characteristics of offspring : it 
is, on the contrary, probable that if the human species reproduced itself only 
in spring, as is the case with many species of the higher animals, 
the offspring, being born in winter, would find themselves, at least in 
those countries where inadequate measures are taken to resist the rigours of 
the climate, in worse conditions than they are now. 
Chapter III. 
On the Interval between each Successive Delivery. 
14. If the possibility of generation at any season of the year cannot 
as has been shown, have any directly deleterious influence on the vitality of 
human offspring, it can none the less have indirect deleterious consequences, 
in so far as it allows pregnancies to succeed one another at too short 
intervals. Another circumstance helps in many civilised races towards such a result; 
this is the habit of cutting short natural feeding before the natural period, 
a practice causing an earlier reappearance of the menstrual discharges, and 
therefore the possibility of a new conception (15). 
If the human species, like the species of higher animals, were mono- 
menstrual, and if we allowed natural feeding for as long as nature seemed 
to require it, all the births occurring at less than two years after the pre­ 
ceding one would be excluded. Pregnancy, in fact, lasts, as is commonly 
known, nine months, and the reappearance of the monthly discharges when 
natural feeding is not interrupted seems to occur regularly at a period of more 
than three months after delivery (16). 
In white races it seems, from the data to hand up to the present, that 
more than half the number of second births occur less than two years after 
Y 2

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