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 September 30, 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 September 30, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

How 'Yes Means Yes' Defines Sexual Assault

How 'Yes Means Yes' Defines Sexual Assault

Newsy (Sep. 29, 2014) Aimed at reducing sexual assaults on college campuses, California has adopted a new law changing the standard of consent for sexual activity. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists May Have Found An Early Sign Of Pancreatic Cancer

Scientists May Have Found An Early Sign Of Pancreatic Cancer

Newsy (Sep. 29, 2014) Researchers looked at 1,500 blood samples and determined people who developed pancreatic cancer had more branched chain amino acids. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Colo. Doctors See Cluster of Enterovirus Cases

Colo. Doctors See Cluster of Enterovirus Cases

AP (Sep. 29, 2014) Doctors at the Children's Hospital of Colorado say they have treated over 4,000 children with serious respiratory illnesses since August. Nine of the patients have shown distinct neurological symptoms, including limb weakness. (Sept. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dr.'s Unsure of Cause of Fast-Spreading Virus

Dr.'s Unsure of Cause of Fast-Spreading Virus

AP (Sep. 29, 2014) Doctors at the Children's Hospital of Colorado say they have treated over 4,000 children with serious respiratory illnesses since August. Nine of the patients have shown distinct neurological symptoms, including limb weakness. (Sept. 29) 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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

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