Many persons marry at too young an age. This is especially true among the laboring classes, where marriage often takes place between very young people, to their own detriment as well as to that of their children. The ages at which marriage is lawful in the various countries and states might well be set at twenty-five years for men and twenty years for women, although children may be procreated by younger people. Children born of very young parents are often weakly. The same applies to children of parents whose ages differ very much, as when the husband is about twenty years older than the wife, or the wife considerably older than the husband. The ages of a married couple should not be too wide apart, although it is well for the husband to be a few years older than his wife. Marriages between relatives can not always be approved of from a sanitary point of view. Their children are often sickly, deformed, deaf and dumb, or idiotic.
Only healthy persons should be allowed to marry. The children of diseased parents are usually sickly. When but one of the parents is diseased the child may be born healthy; but even in these cases the sickness of the parent will often affect the child. It appears that predisposition to disease on the part of the mother is apt to be inherited chiefly by the sons; that of the fathers, by the daughters. It is advisable for young people who contemplate marriage to undergo a thorough medical examination. This may be best accomplished by making application for a life-insurance policy. A person rejected by an insurance company should forego marriage. This could readily be carried out if parents would always make their consent to the marriage of their children subject to the admission of the other party to life-insurance. Fathers and mothers should especially see that their daughters are not married to syphilitic men.
Marriage should not be contemplated by persons in whose families tuberculosis is inherent; nor by those who themselves have recovered from pulmonary tuberculosis. Individuals suffering from epilepsy or other forms of convulsions, as well as those who have suffered from syphilis or from a mental disease, should likewise forego marriage. If such persons marry they should at least feel morally obliged not to beget children.
- From The Standard Family Physician: A Practical International Encyclopedia of Medicine and Hygiene Especially Prepared for the Household. Copyright 1907 by Funk & Wagnalls.