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How Blood Types Are Inherited 


Blood types are inherited from our parents by receiving one gene from each parent (called alleles in scientific terms). However, as a means of determining paternity,

it can be unreliable due to both the limitation of only four groupings and the possibility of rare genetic mutations.


As mentioned on the previous page, your allele makeup can vary within each blood type so the possible combinations are not so straightforward.


The table below gives an indication of possible outcomes in children with combinations of different blood types from the parents, but remember that this is not absolute! (see later pages for more details):


Parents' blood types Possible alleles combinations Possible blood types in the children
Both 'A' 'AA', 'AO' 'A' or 'O'
Both 'B' 'BB', 'BO' 'B' or 'O'
Both 'AB' 'AB' 'A', 'B' or 'AB'
Both 'O' 'OO' 'O'
One 'A' & One 'B' 'AA', 'AO', 'BB', 'BO' 'A', 'B', 'AB' or 'O'
One 'A' & One 'O' 'AA', 'AO', 'OO' 'A' or 'O'
One 'A' & One 'AB' 'AA', 'AO', 'AB' 'A', 'B' or 'AB'
One 'B' & One 'O' 'BB', 'BO','OO' 'B' or 'O'
One 'B' & One 'AB' 'BB', 'BO','AB' 'A', 'B' or 'AB'
One 'AB' & One 'O' 'AB' 'OO' 'A' or 'B'


To see a clearer picture, see the examples shown later in this article.


An alternative view is to transpose the data so that if the mother and child's blood type is known, then the father's may be presumed, as follows:


Mother' blood type: Child's blood type: Father should be type:
A A A, B, AB or O
A B B or AB
A AB B or AB
A O A, B or O
B A A or AB
B B A, B, AB or O
B AB A or AB
B O A, B or O
AB A A, B, AB or O
AB B A, B, AB or O
AB AB A, B or AB
AB O Not Usually Possible
O A A or AB
O B B or AB
O AB Not Usually Possible
O O A, B or O


1. What is a blood type? 

2. How blood types are inherited

3. The Rh blood type system - positive or negative

4. Paternity testing and blood types

5. Examples of blood type inheritance

6. A quick history lesson




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