(January 31, 2016) Before the advent of modern medicine, about 10 000 Rh positive children born to Rh negative mothers were dying for hemolytic anemia in the US each year. Without the superiority of the heterozygotes – the carriers of both variants of Rhesus gene, the less abundant allele should be quickly eliminated from any population. Jaroslav Flegr probably solved 80 years old enigma of coexistence of carriers of two variants of Rhesus gene in the same population.
A new study published today in PLoS ONE (1) showed that incidence and morbidity of many diseases and disorders correlate negatively with frequencies of Rh+ heterozygotes (i.e. the carriers of one copy of the gene for Rh positivity and one copy of the gene for Rh negativity) in the population of individual countries. At the same time, the disease burden associated with the same disorders correlated positively with frequency of Rh negative subjects in individual countries. Together with the observed worse health status and higher incidence of many disorders in Rh negative subjects published by the same research team last autumn (2), this result probably solved 80 years old enigma of coexistence of carriers of two variants of Rhesus gene in the same population.