One of the more enduring theories about President Lincoln's health arose in the early 1960s. A physician published a paper in 1964 in the Journal of the American Medical Association which stated that President Abraham Lincoln had Marfan syndrome, a connective tissue disorder. The diagnosis was based on physical observations of Lincoln:
- the fact that he was much taller than most men of his day
- had long limbs
- had an abnormally-shaped chest (sunken in)
- had loose (lax) joints (based on written descriptions)
At a scientific workshop held in October 2001 in Cairo, Egypt, the scientists gathered there felt that there was not enough scientific evidence available to definitely diagnose President Lincoln with the disorder.
What is Marfan syndrome?Marfan syndrome is an inherited disorder of connective tissue, although about one-quarter of all cases occur without any family history of the syndrome. It affects both men and women of all ethnic background. About 1 in 5,000 people have Marfan syndrome.
Farag, Talaat I. "The Maladies of Celebrities." The Ambassadors Online Magazine 5(Jan 2002) Web.22 Jul 2009.
"Abraham Lincoln’s Health." The Lincoln Institute Presents: Abraham Lincoln's Classroom. The Lincoln Institute. 24 Jul 2009
"About Marfan Syndrome." National Marfan Foundation. 22 Jul 2009