Henry Ford Hospital Medical Journal


Australia antigen and antibody were assayed in acute and convalescent (1, 4 and 6 months) phase sera from 80 children with infectious hepatitis in an institution for the mentally retarded. A higher incidence of Australia antigenemia was found in 18 of 40 (45%) mongoloid children as compared to 9 of 40 (23%) non-mongoloid children. Australia antigen persisted 7 years after the hepatitis epidemic in 11 mongoloid and 2 non-mongoloid children with hepatitis. None of the hepatitis group, with or without Australia antigenemia, demonstrated precipitable antibody to the Australia antigen. The discussion emphasizes the lack of virologic and immunologic evidence relative to: (1) the specific association of Australia antigenemia to virus hepatitis of the serum variety, (2) the persistence of Australia antigenemia in mongoloids associated with transaminase elevations, and (3) the specificity of Australia antigenemia to the hepatitis virus particle and/or protein.