It is unlikely President Lincoln had Marfan’s Syndrome, a gentic disorder that causes heart defects, lung defects, and eye problems.
People with Marfan’s often are unusually tall with extremely long limbs.Although he fit the outward physical description for Marfan’s and the rumors have been circulating for more than 50 years, President Lincoln was exceptionally hardy and healthy.
The Marfan’s conjecture began with a 1964 article in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The physician who wrote it reported that a shirttail cousin of Lincoln’s father was diagnosed with Marfan’s.
Dr. Blaine Houmes, who has studied Lincoln and the assassination, says he has cared for several Marfan’s patients and they had medical challenges Lincoln did not have.
He said unaffected relatives do not pass Marfan’s syndrome on to their children and, in the case of the Lincoln family, several generations passed without other relatives affected.
In an interview on Abraham LIncoln Online.com, Dr. Houmes said it’s unfortunate that many people, including physicians, have heard of the journal article and continue to believe it.