Genetic conditions can be passed on from either the mother’s line or the father’s. We each inherit two chromosomes, from our mother and father, that determine our sex – women have XX chromosomes and men have XY.
A female has two X’s, so if one has a genetic disease, she may not show the characteristics as she can rely on the healthy X chromosome. She can, however, pass the disease on to the next generation. She is known as a carrier.
A male, on the other hand, only has one X chromosome – if this is faulty, he will display characteristics of certain syndromes or conditions. He is known as a sufferer.
The two sex hormones are just one pair of 23 chromosome pairs. Genetic conditions can be inherited from any of these and may be unrelated as to whether it’s your mother or father who has a disease.
An example of an X-linked condition is haemophilia, where the usual process to clot blood is impaired. This can have life-threatening implications from the knocks and tumbles of the school playground to even the most minor of surgical procedures, such as having a tooth out. Life is not impossible, but just needs modifications and certain precautions.
Only men who inherit this are badly affected. Women are either only mildly affected or pass it on to their male children.
New advances in fertility planning can offer the opportunity to ensure that future generations do not inherit these faulty genes. X-linked conditions are not contagious, they are passed down to your children in your genes.
If you or your partner suffers from one of these conditions and you are planning a pregnancy, discuss this with your doctor or any specialist involved in your condition, to consider any risks or reduction of risks to your planned family.
Fitness to work with a genetic condition depends on the particulars of your diagnosis.
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