REPEATED studies have shown that Australia antigen carriers tend to group in families and there is considerable evidence that susceptibility to chronic asymptomatic infection producing Australia antigen (Au, hepatitis B antigen) is inherited as an autosomal recessive trait1–3. The occurrence of asymptomatic carriers of Au varies in different populations, ranging from 0.1 % in the United States and northern Europe to 24% in the Melanesian population of the Lau people on Malaita, as measured by immunodiffusion4. The frequency of Au carriers is relatively high in Oceania and particularly high in Melanesian populations5,6. If this trait is genetically determined, there would be a greater number of individuals who are either homozygous or heterozygous for the proposed recessive gene, Au1, in populations where the trait is common. Blumberg has suggested that these individuals may possess a selective advantage in certain environments7.
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Reprint requests to: American Red Cross, Blood Research Laboratory, 9312 Old Georgetown Road, Bethesda, Maryland 20014.
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MAZZUR, S., WATSON, T. Excess males among siblings of Australian antigen carriers. Nature 250, 60–61 (1974) doi:10.1038/250060a0
AMENDMENTS TO HYPOTHESES ON THE PROXIMATE CAUSES OF VARIATION IN HUMAN SEX RATIOS AT BIRTH WITH PARENTAL INFECTION WITH HEPATITIS B VIRUS OR TOXOPLASMA GONDII
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