What Caused These Mysterious Genetic Mutations?

Hemophilia, infertility, and a whole host
of life-threatening conditions. Genetic mutations in the royal families were
passed on through generations of inbreeding. Stay tuned to number one to
find out how inbreeding may have helped the United States win the Revolutionary
War! Number 10: Hemophilia. One of the most recognized symptoms of inbreeding, hemophilia is also one of its most
dangerous. Hemophilia is an inherited genetic disease where the body is unable
to clot blood properly due to a lack of the necessary proteins. It can often lead
to nosebleeds, bruising easily, and even bleeding into the brain. This disease can
cause scary situations for parents such as a simple cut or nose bleeding turning
into the elevator scene from “The Shining.” Originally observed and noted by an
Arabic physician in the 10th century when he noticed many of his patients
dying due to uncontrollable blood loss, the condition became much more well
known and recognized after the devastating effect it had on the
family of Queen Victoria I of the United Kingdom. Despite being one of
the few female monarchs in English history, and ruling during a time of
great change and colonial expansion in her kingdom, hemophilia is one of the
most lasting memories of her legacy. In fact, researchers believe she was the
first carrier of Hemophilia B, a new type of bleeding disorder that she
passed on to her descendants. In a trend that will become depressingly common on
this list, royal families would often mate with close family members
throughout Europe for political and financial reasons. This aided in the
spread of many genetic mutations including hemophilia. Originally showing
in her son, Leopold, who passed away at 30 years old from
just a minor fall, hemophilia B affected upwards of dozens of relatives in the
royal family, with the actual gene being passed on to many more. This ultimately
led to the death of at least eight direct descendants. Thankfully the
practice of inbreeding has all but died out in the Western world, and today’s
descendants of Queen Victoria have decided to try dating outside the family.
It’s a good thing – otherwise we wouldn’t know who Pippa is! Number 9: The Habsburg Jaw. Also known as lantern jaw and Austrian lip, this disorder can
cause suffers serious discomfort due to issues like a misaligned jawline, swollen
lower lip, and an enlarged tongue. In severe cases, it can also affect the
nervous system and lead to mental disabilities, blindness, and seizures.This condition became much more common among royal families across Europe and
the Middle East due to intermarriage among relatives.
This type of practice resulted in the most famous case of the Habsburg jaw, and one of its most tragic sufferers, Charles II of Spain. Part of the long reigning Habsburg house, Charles II became the namesake behind this condition due to
his facial abnormalities and his slow mental development. By the time he took
power in adulthood, he had trouble communicating due to his swollen tongue,
while his severe underbite made chewing extremely difficult. How did this happen
to one of the most powerful houses in European history? Over 100 years of
“keeping it in the family” in order to consolidate power. While they’re
considered one of the more extreme cases, the practice did not stop with the
Habsburg house. Other noteworthy rulers dealing with this genetic condition
include Ferdinand I of the Holy Roman Empire and Dracula himself, Vlad
the Impaler…which certainly explains some things Number 8: Clubfoot. King Tutankhamun, one of the most widely remembered Pharaohs of the ancient
Egyptian world may have died in a chariot crash or broke his leg during an
assassination attempt. for the better part of 100 years, this was the widely
believed end of a larger-than-life figure, however, researchers have recently
discovered the evidence behind this cause of death…a severely misaligned
foot, which was actually due to the young ruler suffering from clubfoot.
Developed during pregnancy clubfoot is an inherited condition of the bones in
the feet, making them appear twisted and causing the child to have trouble
walking. While it is still fairly common to this da, studies indicate that children who are the product of inbreeding have a much
higher incidence than the general public. This is where the ancient king comes
back into the story. After more advanced techniques in studying the tomb of King
Tut were created in recent years, evidence proves that incest played a big
role in the ancestry line leading up to King Tutankhamun. This left him with many
conditions including clubfoot, cleft palate, and a vulnerable immune system
that led to many cases of malaria. By the time of his death at just 18 years of
age, he had so much trouble walking that the young pharaoh was buried with
139 walking canes made from ivory, silver, and gold. Number 7: Infertility. In today’s world, infertility for both men and women is taken very seriously, with
scientific advancements being made every year. Throughout history, even as recent
as the 20th century, this was a much different story. A leading contributor
for many suffers was generations of incestuous mating that led to issues
such as still births, low sperm count, and erectile dysfunction. Despite needing “two
to tango,” so to speak, the stigma of infertility was usually placed solely on
women. In older societies, a woman’s worth to her husband or her social standing
was directly tied to her ability to produce children, and could even cost
them their marriage or their life. The ability to produce a strong male heir
was made especially important to the ruling class of most major civilizations.
The ancient Egyptians believed that marriage between siblings led to pure
bloodlines, and created stronger male heirs. The effect of this practice led to
a high percentage of still births and miscarriages throughout the 3,000 years
of Pharaoh rule. Even the previously mentioned Tutankhamun was found buried
with his two children, both of whom were stillborn. As civilizations evolved, their
understanding of infertility and its relation to inbreeding was…slow, to say
the least. While Michelangelo was turning a slab of
marble into a 17 foot high naked man and Christopher Columbus was sailing the
ocean blue to become a thing, the physicians of Europe were continuing to
show us how lucky we are, today, in terms of health care and medical testing. In
the 1400s, the most common test for infertility was to have a husband and
wife fill two clay pots with water and wheat bran, wait 10 days, then whoever’s
pot didn’t have maggots was assumed to be the infertile one. Before that, in
North Africa and the Middle East, a woman would have an onion or a garlic
placed in her birthing canal for a whole day. If her breath smelled like the
vegetable of the next day, she was going to be expecting a child! Let’s keep this
in mind next time you complain about today’s medical care. Number 6: Cognitive Disabilities. A very famous quote once said how the mind is the strongest
muscle in the human body. Well, despite the fact that the brain is
not actually a muscle, the human mind is arguably the most important organ we
have and has helped the human race evolve to unbelievable levels. This is
perhaps why cognitive orders such as mental disabilities and dementia are
among the most well known possible outcomes of generational inbreeding.
Perhaps our understanding in the higher incidents of these cognitive
disabilities due to inbreeding has relied upon the interpretation of our past. Many
historical figures throughout history suffered with these disabilities, but had
to endure constant mockery and demonization…even from their own family.
Charles II of Spain and King Tutankhamun, both mentioned earlier in this list,
suffered from different forms of mental disability throughout childhood and
during their reigns of power. Other powerful figures to deal with similar
disorders include Princess Alexandrine of Prussia, who suffered from Down
syndrome, and Prince John…the would-be uncle of Queen Elizabeth II. She was
believed to have autism. Due to each member’s family having a
long history of intermarriage, it is widely speculated that inbreeding played
a significant role in determining their health, overall. And for those of you that
are curious…the strongest muscle on the body is actually the gluteus maximus. Number 5: Recessive Genetic Disorder. Also known as autosomal recessive disorders, this wide range of diseases and conditions are specific to those that
are caused by parents passing on two copies of the same alleles to certain
genetic mutations. This can lead to serious diseases such as tay-sachs,
cystic fibrosis, and sickle cell anemia. These life-altering and deadly diseases,
often discovered early in childhood, have become much more common in certain parts of the world that still largely believe in familial intermarriage. 10% of all
marriages, worldwide, are considered to be between two family members. However, in
parts of the Middle East and Southeast Asia, that number rises dramatically. In
countries like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, estimates have placed familial marriage
as over half of all total marriages. This ultimately can lead to a higher
incidence of genetic disorders among such families. These incidents, however,
are not mutually exclusive to the other side of the earth. 19 states in the
United States allow for marriage between cousins, with no genetic testing required.
Seriously! Number 4: Cleft Palate. A cleft palate, or a cleft lip, is a fairly
common condition that causes an opening at the roof of the mouth or the upper
lip. Figures roughly estimate one case in every 940 births, making it the second
most common birth defect in the United States. This rate rises worldwide to one
in every seven hundred births, with a higher prevalence among Latinos and
Pacific Islanders. Usually, this condition can be fixed with a single surgery when
the child is between nine and twelve months old. The cleft palate goes back throughout human history, with the first cleft
palate repair actually taking place in China around 390 BC, however, repair did
not become commonplace for most societies until 1816, when the more
modern technique was invented…albeit, without anesthesia. This birth defect
became very common among the royal family in ancient Egypt, specifically
including our old friend King Tutankhamun. Another notable example
includes family members of King Rama V of Thailand. Throughout his lifetime, he
sired 70 children with many women, including through marriage to
half-sisters. Now, while that may seem like an extraordinary number of children,
let’s try to keep in mind that he only lived to be 37 years old. It really makes
you wonder how did he even have time to run a country! Number 3: Scoliosis. Scoliosis is a medical condition that causes a sideways curvature of the spine. This skeletal disorder, which affects upwards of nine
million people in the United States, can cause back pain, misaligned hips, and even
heart and lung problems (in more severe cases). Most scoliosis patients develop
the condition as children, or in adolescents between the ages of 10 and
15 years old. This was the case for England’s Princess Eugenie of York, who
developed the condition as a child and had surgery to correct her spine
alignment. She’s actually the second member of the royal family to reveal her
affliction with scoliosis since the turn of the millennium. Richard III, the former King of England ,was found buried under a
parking lot in Leicester, UK. Remains of the former monarch, who became the
last King of England to die in battle, were also found to show the young royal
suffered from curvature of the spine. Number 2: Elongated Skull. The concept of elongated skulls has long been known when studying human history. These
remains have been found across the world, from the Mayans in the Americas to the
Goths in tribal Germany. However, while many tribes and societies artificially
altered their skulls for traditional or religious reasons, an elongated skull was
also a birth defect that affected many in the bloodline of the royal families
of ancient Egypt. Pharaoh Akhenaten of the 18th dynasty is widely believed to
have suffered from craniosynostosis, a condition where fibrous joints in the
head fuse at an early age and lead to elongated and in misshapen skulls. He was
also known to pass this on to many members of his family, including his
daughters and his youngest son. Who was that son you ask? Tutankhamun! But of
course it was! At this point, the list should probably be named “The Unfortunate Boy King. Number 1: Porphyria. The year is 1776. The British military
has just been defeated, and the United States begins its rise to glory. We all
know the story taught to us in school, but, do we know the whole story? Perhaps
not. At the time of the Revolutionary War, the king of England was George III.
Known to be a tough monarch, and absolutely opposed to independence for
the American colonies, King George was quite popular among his subjects in
England. However, what many didn’t know was that the King suffered from a
metabolic disorder known as porphyria. For many, this illness has simply become
known as “the madness of King George.” Porphyria is a condition that can affect
the skin and nervous system of a sufferer. Symptoms include severe
abdominal pain, depression, psychosis, and sensitivity to sunlight. Perhaps the most
well-known sign of porphyria is the purple urine…yes, that’s right, I said
purple urine…produced during an attack or relapse of the disease. In regards to
King George, his constant relapses with the then-unknown illness led him to
shutting himself off from the outside world after the humiliating loss of the
American Revolution. By the time he passed away, he was blind, almost
completely deaf, and was a king in name only. Because the disease is considered a
genetic disease, inbreeding among the English royal family not only affected
George III, but many ancestors and those following him that were believed to have
signs of porphyria. Mary, Queen of Scots, James V of Scots, Princess
Charlotte of Prussia, Frederic the Great of Prussia, and many, many more. Tell us what you think about poor King Tut in the comments below. Don’t forget to hit the subscribe button to keep up with other interesting information…and we’ll
see you next time!


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