What is a genetic condition?

Genetic abnormalities are those that occur usually because of a defective gene (length of DNA portion containing a genetic blueprint) that you or your partner are carrying, but not necessarily suffering ill effects from, therefore may not know that you possess. If the genes then come together in certain combinations in the baby then the baby may suffer from the full condition. Examples of this are cystic fibrosis (a disease that causes lung and digestive system disease); you and your partner may carry the gene but be unaware of it. When the baby is born, you both may have passed on your ''abnormal'' gene to the baby and it would then suffer from cystic fibrosis; this particular condition is rare and occurs in around 1 in 2000 deliveries. Other more common ones include the diseases of red blood cell production sickle cell disease and thalassaemia; if the baby has the genes for these conditions it is normally perfectly well inside your womb, until it is born when the illness may show itself. This is why screening is often carried out on ''at risk'' groups at an early stage of pregnancy. ''Sex-linked'' conditions such as Duchenne muscular dystrophy and haemophilia run in families so you would almost certainly know if you were at risk of passing these on; the mother is the carrier and male children only are affected.
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