We've all heard of blood types. We know, among other things, that it is important to receive the correct one during a blood transfusion.
We all also know that blood groups have letters: A, B, O and AB. However, in general, our knowledge on the subject ends there ...
Let's learn more about it today!
Blood is divided into two basic parts: a translucent fluid called plasma and blood cells (both red and white). Red blood cells contain certain proteins called antigens that cover their surface. It's like a layer of sugar or icing! These different antigens distinguish cells A from B, from O, from AB.
Plasma is important and different blood groups also have differences. Plasma contains what are called antibodies, which help fight infections and other elements that attack the body. This is the national guard of our health!
When it comes to antibodies, blood groups are unique when it comes to antibodies. Since type A blood contains an antibody that would attack all antibodies in type B blood, an "A" individual will certainly not want to receive a "B" blood transfusion. The exact opposite is true for type B blood. If someone receives a transfusion of the wrong type, their blood will treat the new cells as an attacker, causing a potentially fatal reaction.
Type O blood contains A and B antibodies, but it lacks A / B antigens. Why is this important? This means that it is safe for people with type O to donate blood to anyone else. They are called “universal donors”.
On the other hand, lucky type AB individuals do not have any of these antibodies - that is, they can accept any type of blood - A, B, AB or O. They are the “universal recipients”. .
We must not forget the rhesus, positive or negative. Surely that mean something to you?
So what does this mean? It turns out that there is an extra antigen that gives some blood cells what is called the 'Rh factor'. This is what causes the positive / negative distinction, making 8 blood groups in all. Here is how the population is divided according to its blood type among the U.S.:
30% of people are A +
6% are A-
9% are B +
2% are B-
4% are AB +
1% are AB-
39% are O +
9% are O-
It is important to test people's blood types for many reasons, as things can happen during life.
For example, some people's blood type may change after an organ transplant.
Also, pregnant mothers may not have the same blood type as their child (since the blood type is based on genes inherited from both mother and father). Since blood cells can pass through the placental wall, a pregnant woman's body may develop a reaction to the blood of the fetus. This is preventable and treatable, however.
People born with a rare condition called chimerism can actually have 2 blood groups.
Researchers are still not sure exactly why blood groups evolved, but they are making some fascinating discoveries. For example, some now believe that type O has emerged as protection against the malaria virus. And while some people claim that blood groups determine what you should eat for optimal health, research published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition indicates that there is no evidence for this, at least not yet.
One thing is for sure, our bodies are weird and wonderful! So, last question: do you know your blood type?