Wednesday's child - our European legacy

"Monday's child is fair of face,
Tuesday's child is full of grace,
Wednesday's child is full of woe,
Thursday's child has far to go,
Friday's child is loving and giving,
Saturday's child works hard for a living,
But the child who is born on the Sabbath day
Is fair and wise and good in every way"
                                        - traditional English rhyme  (author unknown)

The past few weeks I have blogged about Wednesday's children, full of woe. We have always heard about how the life expectancy of the average person is so much higher than it was just a few generations ago. The conquering of diseases such as TB, childhood immunizations and the discovery of antibiotics changed that. The average life expectancy was brought down mainly by the sheer volume of children that did not make it to adulthood.

This last "Wednesday's child" blog is about how blessed I and my husband are to have been born in a more modern age. It seems that I and my husband have a family heritage that puzzled me until our own daughter married and had children. My genealogy findings showed quite a few of the ancestral families on my maternal, Norwegian family side had suffered immeasurable grief. A great aunt, a great great grandmother, and many other grand aunts for many generations back had lost a large amount of children to stillbirth. When doing my German husbands genealogy I found the same troubling stories. Ancestral women who had 3,4,5 and more children born dead!

Fast forward to 2006. My daughter was pregnant with her first child and her doctor gave her a shot of Rhogam. It seems she was RH negative. Both my husband and I are blood type B+. My daughter is B-, as is my husbands sister. We obviously are both carriers. It seems that if a negative mother carries a RH+ child her body will produce antibodies that with the second pregnancy and on will potentially attack the fetus which can cause miscarriage and/or stillbirth. Mystery solved! Those ancestral women in both of our families, I am guessing, were RH negative. 

You know I am proud of my heritage, but part of the heritage of European ancestry is the higher incidence of the RH negative factor.  I now know that I (and my husband) passed that European "legacy" on to my daughter.  "In general, it occurs at a frequency of about 40-45% in Europeans and people of largely European ancestry. In non-European populations the frequency of RH- is much lower. In people of largely African ancestry, this allele occurs at  a frequency of about 3%, and in people of Asian, Pacific Islander, and Native American ancestry, RH- occurs at or less than a frequency of 1%. Therefore in Europeans we expect that about 16% of the population will have RH negative blood types. In the other populations of the world, the frequency of RH negative types will be much lower; in African, only 9 people in 10,000 will be RH negative, and in the non-African, non-European portion of the world only 1 person in 10,000 will be RH negative."*

How blessed are we in this day and age? What was no more than a little stick in the arm for my daughter was for some of our ancestors the unspeakable sorrow of multiple stillborn and/or miscarried children. 

Just like my daughter, my daughters children are also RH negative 
but today there is little need to be concerned about that legacy. 
 Huummm...there is also a 50% chance she passed my darned recessive red-head gene on to them. 
I wonder if there is something they can come up with for that?

- Ranae

for a little more info on RH factor and ethnicity click ↓

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