Genetic hemochromatosis, a Celtic disease: is it now time for population screening?

Genet Test. 2001 Summer;5(2):127-30. doi: 10.1089/109065701753145583.


In populations of northern European ancestry, hereditary hemochromatosis (HH) is tightly linked to mutations within the hemochromatosis gene (HFE gene). Over 93% of Irish HH patients are homozygous for the HFE gene C282Y mutation, providing a reliable diagnostic marker of the disease in this population. However, the prevalence of the C282Y mutation and that of the second HFE gene mutation, H63D, have yet to be determined within the Irish population. The objective of this study was to identify the true prevalence of the genetic form of HH in the Irish population. DNA was extracted from 1002 randomly selected newborn screening cards and analyzed for the C282Y and H63D mutations within the HFE gene. Complete results were obtained from 800 cards. Mutations were identified in 364 (46%) neonates. Eight (1%) neonates were homozygous for C282Y and 8 (1%) were homozygous for H63D. One hundred and fifty-five (19%) neonates were C282Y heterozygous and 226 (28%) were H63D heterozygous. Of these, 33 (4%) carried one copy of both C282Y and H63D mutations, i.e., compound heterozygous. Allele frequencies for C282Y and H63D were 11% and 15%, respectively. The high C282Y allele frequency in the Irish population together with its close linkage to HH indicate that C282Y genotyping is the preferred screening strategy for this disease in Ireland.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Ethnicity / genetics*
  • Gene Frequency
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Genetic Testing*
  • Genotype
  • HLA Antigens / genetics*
  • Hemochromatosis / diagnosis
  • Hemochromatosis / ethnology*
  • Hemochromatosis / genetics
  • Hemochromatosis Protein
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Ireland / epidemiology
  • Membrane Proteins*
  • Mutation, Missense*
  • Neonatal Screening*
  • Prevalence


  • HFE protein, human
  • HLA Antigens
  • Hemochromatosis Protein
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I
  • Membrane Proteins