Medical History of President William Howard Taft - Reviews the medical history of America's 27th, and heaviest, President.
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At age 9, he suffered a slight skull fracture and a bad cut on the head when the horses drawing the family carriage ran off. [15a] For the rest of his life he carried "a deep depression" in his skull [22a]. There was speculation this injury damaged Taft's pituitary gland and caused his obesity [9a], but this is unlikely because: (1) Taft was big from birth [15b] and (2) throughout his life, Taft's weight generally paralleled his unhappiness [15c] [2a] [7a].
As a child, Taft used to go swimming in a Cincinnati canal. A year before his death, he wrote: "I remember one occasion... when the sun was very hot and... the next day my back was so burned that I had to have a doctor and remain in bed.... I am sure that an examination of my back will still show the freckles that were the result of that day's excursion." [15d] Taft had fair skin, blue eyes and light hair [15e].
Forty years after the event, Taft wrote that he and his brothers came down with typhoid fever after a visit to Middle Bass Island when he was about 10. His casual tone in the letter suggests it was not a severe illness [24a].