Full text: Problems in eugenics

39°Section IV.A. Bluhm. 
In mixed births, in which the father is very big in comparison to the 
mother, troubles in labour are of common occurrence, even among primitive 
peoples (for example: father, Aleutian; mother, Kamschadale). 
But such mixed births are much less frequent among them than among 
civilized races, who through their constant intercourse with each other 
become closely connected. In these, again, we cannot properly speak of 
degeneration. Nevertheless, there remain among civilized races a very considerable 
number of cases in which a pathological course of delivery, in the true 
meaning of the phrase, comes into the question. 
The question now is : how far this lessened ability to bear can be 
individually acquired, and how far it depends upon inherited predisposition. 
How far, consequently, medical assistance in confinements assists in its 
further transmission. 
For when through the skill of the obstetrician a mother with a much 
contracted pelvis brings a living child into the world, while without this skill 
she would have been delivered of a dead child, then, presuming that deformi­ 
ties of the pelvis are transmissible, the obstetrician contributes towards the 
spread of the contracted pelvis. 
We can to the foregoing question, as to all similar questions, at present 
give no answer borne out by figures; we feel justified in saying, however, 
that the defective power of bringing forth children is at least as often in­ 
herited as acquired. The power of bearing depends essentially upon two 
forces, namely, the power of expulsion and the resistance opposed to it—or 
expressed anatomically on the condition of the muscles of the uterus and 
abdomen on the one hand and that of the bony pelvis and of the perineum 
on the other. Both factors can be influenced unfavourably through an 
unsuitable mode of life, above all, through insufficient exercise and through 
too much sitting or standing. 
The uterus belongs, it is true, to the so-called “ involuntary muscles,” 
which cannot be knowingly used like the “ voluntary muscles ” (arm, leg, 
back muscles, etc.). The exercise of the latter is, however, not without influ­ 
ence on the former, and the condition of the voluntary muscles depends to a 
great degree upon the circulation of the blood, which, for its part, depends 
again upon the movement of the body. 
It is in accordance with this that the aristocratic Chinese women, who, 
in consequence of their “ foot-crippling, ” are doomed to almost constant 
sitting, as well as those women of Malay and Java, who lead sedentary lives 
by preference, mostly have difficult confinements. Kottnitz, who studied 
the conditions of health of the industrial women-workers of Saxony, saw the 
so-called “ flat pelvis ” most frequently among women who had had no 
rickets as children, but had entered weaving mills at fourteen years of age, 
where they had been obliged to stand continuously.

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