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Full text of "Medical Jurisprudence And Toxicology"



intermenstrual period. The child cried lustily at birth, had a good crop of
hair, was well coated with vernix caseosa, measured twenty inches in length,
and weighed seven pounds. The finger and toe nails were fully developed
and the child sucked vigorously on being put to the breast.

2. The Maximum Period of Pregnancy.—Sometimes, cases of disputed
legitimacy arise in which it is necessary to determine how long gestation
may be prolonged. In In£ia, England and the United States of America the
law does not lay down any fixed limit of gestation. Each case is decided on
its own merits. J. K. Mohanty5 of Angul of the district of Cuttack reports
the case of a Hindu woman, aged 36 years, who was delivered of a male
child after a period of gestation of 315 days reckoned from the first day of
her last menstrual period and nearly 300 days calculated from the probable
day of ovulation or fertilization. The child was 22 inches long and weighed
9 pounds 6 ounces. The centres of ossification were visible in the upper
epiphyses of the tibia and humerus in addition to that in the lower epiphysis
of the femur. Dr. Phillips6 reports the case of a young unmarried girl in
whom gestation lasted 324 days after the cessation of her last menstruation
and 311 days after the date of coitus. A case 7 is also recorded where a
healthy male child was delivered on the 315th day after the last date of
intercourse. The husband had been killed on the same day, and compen-
sation was claimed for the child. As there was no reason for doubting the
chastity of the mother, the court entered judgment for the child, thus
recognizing the possibility of a pregnancy of 320 days dating from the first
day of the last menstrual period. In the divorce case s of Gaskill v. Gosfcill,
the Lord Chancellor accepted 331 days as a period of protracted gestation.
During the trial Eden said in his evidence that in cases of such prolonged
pregnancy the child would be much above the average weight and dimen-
sions at the time of birth. He cited six cases accepted as authentic in which
the calculated period of gestation lay between 331 and 336 days, and the
weights of the children varied from 12| to 13J pounds.9 But in this
particular case the child was not weighed or measured. Four more cases
of abnormally long periods of gestation have been reported. In one case10
pregnancy lasted 352 days calculated from the last menstrual period and
probably 344 days from the coitus which resulted in the conception. In the
second case n a primiparous woman, 27 years old, was delivered of a well-
developed girl on the 343rd day after her last menstrual period. The girl
was considerably, larger than the normal child, was 50 cm. long and weighed
5,000 grammes. In the third12 and fourth13 cases children born 346 and,
349 days after the last dates on which the couples actually cohabited were
proved to be legitimate children. From very careful investigations carried
out on 15,629 births, McKeown and Gibson14 have found that the longest
periods of gestation were 319, 320, 321, 325 and 328 days. In two cases the
period of gestation was reliably thought to be 339 and 359 days respectively.
They also conclude that, for medico-legal purposes, a period of 354 days from
coitus to the birth is not impossible. On the other hand, the House of
Lords by a majority allowed the appeal of the husband, who brought a

5.   ItwL Msd. Goz., Jan. 1944, p. 23.

6.   Laturet 1900, Vol. I, p. 94.

7.   J. F- Walker, Brit. Med. Jour., June 3, 1939, p. 1155.

8.   Brit Med. Jour,, Aug. 6, 1921, p. 220.

a   Tr<ms. Med.-Leg. SQC., 1922-23, Vol. XVH, p., 168.

IE D. Bopaz, Gaceta Medwa de Mexico, Mexico City, 57, Sept.-Oct. 1926, p. 583; Jour.
Auier. Med. Assoc., Dec, 24, 1926, p. 2038.

11. Tausch, Moiwdsckrift £ Gebur&hulfe u. Gyndkologie, Berlin, Jan. 1933, p. 137;
Jew. Amer, SfeeL Assoc., Mafcfe 4, 1933, p. 704,

12.' Wood v. Wood, Brit Hed. JW., July 5, 1947, p. 36.

H.   BMl«m v. Hadlum, Mai-f^g. Jour., Vol. XVI, Part in, 1948, p. 120.

14,   Brit Med. Jwr., May &':aH& Vol. I, pp. 938-941.