Genetic Disorders

Genes play a part in the cause of many common diseases, such as asthma and diabetes mellitus. In these diseases, a number of genes interact with factors in the environment. However, some other rarer disorders are caused solely by altered genes or abnormal chromosomes and may be passed on from parent to child.

This section discusses the principles of chromosome and gene disorders and explains how these disorders may be inherited. The specific details of individual disorders are covered more fully in other parts of the guide.

The first article discusses the way in which chromosomal abnormalities cause disease. The most common and well-known condition is Down’s syndrome, in which a child has one extra chromosome in every cell. Chromosome abnormalities often cause problems affecting many systems of the body. The second article describes single gene disorders, which may be passed on through a family or may occur without a family history as the result of a gene mutation. People who have a family history of a gene disorder may find genetic counselling useful.

Key anatomy

For information on the structure and function of chromosomes and genes.

Chromosome Disorders

Gene Disorders

From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.

The subjects, conditions and treatments covered in this encyclopaedia are for information only and may not be covered by your insurance product should you make a claim.

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