Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Tibetan Children Are Five Times More Likely To Survive Infancy If Moms Have Oxygen-Promoting Genes

Date:
September 17, 2004
Source:
National Science Foundation
Summary:
A genetic trait enabling some Tibetan women to achieve relatively high oxygen levels in their blood, despite living at oxygen-scarce altitudes, is associated with higher infant survival, according to research reported in the online edition Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Tibetan children have a much better chance of surviving their first year if their mothers have a genetic trait that enables them to achieve high levels of oxygen in their blood.
Credit: Cynthia M. Beall and Melvyn C. Goldstein

Arlington, Va. -- A genetic trait enabling some Tibetan women to achieve relatively high oxygen levels in their blood, despite living at oxygen-scarce altitudes, is associated with higher infant survival, according to research reported in the online edition Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Tibetan mothers who have the oxygen-enriching gene(s) also give birth to infants who are more likely to survive their first year of life than are children of mothers without such genes.

Beall and an interdisciplinary team took data on mothers and their children in over 900 Tibetan households who lived at altitudes up to about 13,800 feet above sea level. For comparison, the peak of Hawaii’s volcanic mountain, Mauna Loa, is 13,680 feet above sea level.

The researchers measured the women’s blood oxygen and collected genealogical and fertility data, including the numbers of pregnancies and births, surviving children, and other health status factors.

Although the researchers did not examine the women’s DNA directly to identify a high-oxygen-conferring gene, they used an established statistical method to infer from blood samples and family history data the gene’s existence and path of inheritance from mother to child. According to their findings, one copy of the suspect gene, out of a possible two, gives Tibetan mothers the ability to infuse extra oxygen into their bloodstreams, an important survival asset because it decreases the high-altitude stress of oxygen deficiency.

The researchers then compared women’s blood-oxygen levels to the likelihood that they would become pregnant and give birth to living children, and to the likelihood that those children would survive to age 15 years.

They found the predisposition to achieve high oxygen levels did not affect a woman’s likelihood of becoming pregnant or delivering a live child, but it did affect that child’s chances of living past infancy. Children of moms with the genetic advantage were about five times more likely to live to the age of one year than were other children.

A higher survival rate for children of parents with certain genes is a defining feature of natural selection. “Questions about how humans adapt to their environments are important,” comments Mark Weiss, program officer at the National Science Foundation, which was a sponsor of the research. “This study links Darwinian fitness to a genetic adaptation – the ability to compensate for oxygen deprivation at high altitudes. As people migrated out of the tropics and into inhospitable environments they had to adapt both culturally and biologically. The work by Beall and colleagues is a really neat example of selection molding the genetic composition of a population to allow life in an extreme environment."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Science Foundation. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

National Science Foundation. "Tibetan Children Are Five Times More Likely To Survive Infancy If Moms Have Oxygen-Promoting Genes." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 September 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/09/040917090551.htm>.
National Science Foundation. (2004, September 17). Tibetan Children Are Five Times More Likely To Survive Infancy If Moms Have Oxygen-Promoting Genes. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/09/040917090551.htm
National Science Foundation. "Tibetan Children Are Five Times More Likely To Survive Infancy If Moms Have Oxygen-Promoting Genes." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/09/040917090551.htm (accessed July 29, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

AP (July 28, 2014) West African nations and international health organizations are working to contain the largest Ebola outbreak in history. It's one of the deadliest diseases known to man, but the CDC says it's unlikely to spread in the U.S. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
$15B Deal on Vets' Health Care Reached

$15B Deal on Vets' Health Care Reached

AP (July 28, 2014) A bipartisan deal to improve veterans health care would authorize at least $15 billion in emergency spending to fix a veterans program scandalized by long patient wait times and falsified records. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Two Americans Contract Ebola in Liberia

Two Americans Contract Ebola in Liberia

Reuters - US Online Video (July 28, 2014) Two American aid workers in Liberia test positive for Ebola while working to combat the deadliest outbreak of the virus ever. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins