Haemophilia A and B are both X-chromosome mutations, so a sufferer necessarily inherits the disease from his mother. She won't have serious symptoms unless both of her X chromosomes have the mutation, which is very rare. Since sons of a sufferer necessarily inherit his Y chromosome, they can't inherit the disease from him.

I'm trying to find out when it was understood that sons of a sufferer could not inherit the disease from their fathers. The relationship between chromosomes and heredity was clearly demonstrated in 1915. The idea that females were usually carriers and sufferers usually male had been understood since 1813. The XY sex-determination system was discovered in 1905.

However, it is not clear to me when this would all have been put together and become part of normal biology and medical courses. I think the crucial points are:

  • There are sex-linked genetic conditions.
  • Haemophilia is one of them, and is an X-chromosome recessive condition.
  • Men are XY, women are XX.

Can anyone help with when all of that became normal knowledge for doctors and biologists?

Titles and authors of biology textbooks from the 1920s to 1945 would help, since I'm quite prepared to seek out old books, if I know what to hunt for.

  • $\begingroup$ This page might give you some clues to follow up. $\endgroup$
    – David
    May 1, 2018 at 12:10
  • $\begingroup$ @David: Sadly not, but it has shown me how my question was unclear, and I've improved it. $\endgroup$ May 1, 2018 at 13:25
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Sorry about that. Chasing up these historical things is very time-consuming because there is so little on the Internet, which is in any case obsessed with the latest thing. I just wonder whether you would have had to understand the XY sex-determination system to draw the conclusion about non-transmission to sons. $\endgroup$
    – David
    May 1, 2018 at 13:29
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for trying, it was worthwhile. Understanding XY sex-determination means you know non-transmission to sons is basically impossible, rather than just unobserved. This is for a story set in the 1940s, and the question is if it's possible to be sure that a sufferer isn't the son of someone known to be a sufferer. $\endgroup$ May 1, 2018 at 14:25

1 Answer 1


Using Google Scholar, I've found the oldest publication on this item. 1911 - "The pathogenesis of hereditary haemophilia". In this article you'll find a complete synthesis of all the works done about haemophilia till 1946.

OP adding a summary, in case of future link rot: The linked article is from 1946, based on research in the late 1930s and early 1940s into the statistics of haemophilia. It's attempting to estimate the mutation rates of X chromosomes in males and females, and to test if X-Y crossover allows the haemophilia mutation to skip generations. It assumes the knowledge that leads to the conclusion that a male sufferer can't pass it onto his sons.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .