Medical Definition of Mongolism

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Mongolism: Obsolete name for Down syndrome.

Down syndrome refers to the 19th century English physician J. Langdon Down who described the condition in 1866. In great error, Langdon Down attributed the condition to a "reversion" to the "mongoloid race." He held that evolution had been reversed and there had been a sort of backslide from the superior Caucasian to the inferior Oriental race. The misnomer "mongolism" is incorrect and racist and is to be avoided.

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Reviewed on 12/12/2018

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