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Sickle cell anemia traced back to one baby born 7300 years ago

About 300,000 babies are born each year with sickle cell anemia, a debilitating disease that’s caused by one small genetic mutation. New research shows that the mutation in question—which leads to deformed red blood cells—dates back 7300 years to a single baby born in West Africa, The New York Times reports. Researchers made the discovery after analyzing the genomes of 2932 people from around the world. Scientists thought that the sickle cell mutation had sprung up multiple times in different populations, but the new findings, reported in The American Journal of Human Genetics, show that a single mutation—in a single baby—led to the disease.

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