It's in the Blood! A Documentary History of Linus Pauling, Hemoglobin and Sickle Cell Anemia Narrative  
Home | Search | All Documents and Media | Linus Pauling Day-By-Day
Genetic Counseling
<  32  >

In 1956 Pauling touched on a subject that he would promote for the next fifteen years – genetic counseling for carriers of molecular diseases. In order to convey the chances that a couple would have an unhealthy child, Pauling often explained the possible genetic make-up of an offspring between two heterozygotes. "When two of the heterozygotes, the carriers of the sickle-cell-anemia gene, marry, one-quarter of their children may be expected to have the disease sickle-cell-anemia, one-quarter to be normal, and one-half to be carriers like the parents."

Pauling advocated acknowledgment and action by carriers of genetic defects. He suggested genetic counseling for prospective carriers as a way to stop the spread of molecular diseases and minimize human suffering. Specifically, Pauling proposed that carriers of a hereditary disease should avoid marrying another carrier and that couples as prospective parents should consider whether or not to have children. Although people could be tested for sickling hemoglobin, at this time no test existed that could determine whether a person was a carrier of phenylketonuria.

Other scientists, who promoted counseling during the 1950s, invoked the same arguments as Pauling. One method of prevention that Pauling encouraged was the universal introduction of birth control.

Previous Page Next Page

Audio Clip  Audio: Stopping the Spread of Sickle Cell Anemia to Children. March 30, 1962. (1:33) Transcript and More Information

Get the Flash Player to see this audio player.

Video Clip  Video: Problems Raised by Medical Research. 1960. (5:49) Transcript and More Information

Get the Flash Player to see this video.

Click images to enlarge 

Picture
Ava Helen and Linus Pauling standing next to a large chemical model. [the alpha-helix?], 1963.


Illustration
Illustration from Medical World News article, "Sickle Cell Anemia" December 3, 1971.

"As more and more tests for heterozygosity are developed, predictions can be made with greater and greater reliability about the probability of birth of defective children, and advice can be given to prospective spouses or parents about the desirability of their contributing to the welfare of the human race as a whole by preventing the transmissions of seriously defective genes to the next generation."

Home | Search | All Documents and Media | Linus Pauling Day-By-Day