When on the morning of the new year a local telecaster smilingly announces the name, the hour, and the place of birth of the year's first newborn, we can be reasonably confident that the information is correct. After all, it is based on data obtained from all the area hospitals. Our certainty, however, is not absolute. Occasionally a birth that occurs in an obscure rooming house, an out-of-the-way cabin, or a taxicab remains unreported. The announced firstborn may not be a first after all.
How much greater must our uncertainty be when a medical author reports a "first"—be it disease, syndrome, or physical sign. The data base for such a claim to priority must of necessity extend to the ends of the globe and the beginnings of medical writing. An appropriately extensive search of the literature is an undertaking that borders on the impossible. The bibliographic sources for such a