The Tay-Sachs disease gene in North American Jewish populations: geographic variations and origin

Am J Hum Genet. 1983 Nov;35(6):1258-69.


From data collected in a North American Tay-Sachs disease (TSD) heterozygote screening program, the TSD carrier frequency among 46,304 Jewish individuals was found to be .0324 (1 in 31 individuals). This frequency is consistent with earlier estimates based on TSD incidence data. TSD carrier frequencies were then examined by single country and single region of origin in 28,029 Jews within this sample for whom such data were available for analysis. Jews with Polish and/or Russian ancestry constituted 88% of this sample and had a TSD carrier frequency of .0327. No TSD carriers were observed among the 166 Jews of Near Eastern origins. Relative to Jews of Polish and Russian origins, there was at least a twofold increase in the TSD carrier frequency in Jews of Austrian, Hungarian, and Czechoslovakian origins (P less than .005). These findings suggest that the TSD gene proliferated among the antecedents of modern Ashkenazi Jewry after the Second Diaspora (70 A.D.) and before their major migrations to regions of Poland and Russia (before 1100 A.D.).

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Gene Frequency*
  • Genes, Recessive*
  • Genetic Carrier Screening
  • Genetic Testing
  • Heterozygote*
  • Humans
  • Jews*
  • Male
  • North America
  • Poland
  • Russia (Pre-1917)
  • Tay-Sachs Disease / genetics*