The haematology of indigenous Australians

Wendy N. Erber, A. M. Buck, T. J. Threlfall

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Prior to European settlement indigenous Australians were hunter-gatherers who lived in geographically isolated small clan groups, also separated by elaborate totemic rules. Today they still reside in isolated communities throughout Australia but many have moved to the cities. They share a high incidence of a range of health problems including cardiovascular disease, renal disease and infectious diseases largely attributed to a change to a more sedentary lifestyle. This paper reviews the haematology of indigenous Australians, including blood count, frequency and causes of anaemia, inherited risk factors for thrombophilia, blood groups and the incidence and types of haematological malignancies. There are some significant genetic differences between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians particularly in the frequency of blood groups, factor V Leiden and prothrombin mutations and presence of - α 3.7-kb thalassaemia. These findings may have practical therapeutic implications (e.g. HPA phenotype for transfusion therapy and pregnancy risk) and in predicting disease risk. Other differences are acquired, related to lifestyle and living conditions (e.g. eosinophilia secondary to parasitic infections; iron and folate deficiencies), and are largely preventable.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)339-350
Number of pages12
Issue number5-6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2004
Externally publishedYes


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