Haemoglobin types in pre- and postnatal life
The blood protein, which is involved in the transport of the oxygen to the tissues, indergoes great changes after birth. It has been known for about a century (25) that the haemoglobin of the foetus is different from that of the adult and is replaced after birth by the adult component. Moreover, fundamental investigations [summarized in (6)] have shown that physiological differences also exist between the foetal and adult haemoglobins of many mammals. So in prenatal life a haemoglobin seems to be present which differs in physico-chemical and physiological properties from the adult component. The situation has, however, proved to be still more complicated since more sensitive methods for the differentiation of haemoglobin fractions have demonstrated that several haemoglobin components are involved in this physiological process. Moreover, since the detection (30) of an inherited abnormal haemoglobin in sickle-cell anaemia and the discovery of many other genetically controlled haemoglobin variants, the possibility exists that after birth the foetal haemoglobin in whole or in part is replaced by an abnormal haemoglobin component.
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