Genetic diseases can be defined as diseases resulting from abnormalities in a person’s genetic material. Family bonds are capable of passing genetic diseases to children through parents or grandparents. If you happen to be susceptible to a certain genetic disease, there is a limit to what you can do in terms of prevention. There are many diseases that can be traced back to a person’s ancestry or even ethnicity. Our focus here will be on the most common of these diseases today. Let’s get right into it and discuss 8 of the most common genetic diseases you should be aware of.
1. Down Syndrome
Down syndrome has to be one of the most popular genetic diseases today given the fact that the disease affects one in every 1000 newborns. Down syndrome is caused by a chromosomal abnormality characterized by the formation of extra genes on chromosome 21. The disease is most common among older expectant mothers. As a result, mothers who are at a higher risk of getting babies with Down syndrome are advised to have children as early as possible. Although Down syndrome can be easily detected during pre-natal testing, babies who are born with the disease show certain features at birth the most notable being; heart defects, digestive system defects, developmental delays and decreased facial muscle tone.
2. Sickle Cell Anemia (SCA)
This is another common genetic disease to look out for. SCA is most common among individuals of African, Caribbean, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern as well as South & Central American decent. SCA occurs when the red blood cells aren’t able to carry enough oxygen through the body because of deformation. The red blood cells of individuals with sickle cell anemia are crescent-shaped (like a sickle) instead of being disc-shaped. Sickle cell anemia occurs a few times in a person’s lifetime. The disease causes a lot of pain. Individuals with SCA experience abdominal, bone and chest pain. Pain medication is administered to ease the pain. Sufferers also undergo kidney dialysis, blood transfusions and take folic acid to ease other symptoms like shortness of breath, fatigue, accelerated heart rate, stunned growth, leg ulcers, and delayed puberty.
3. Cystic Fibrosis (CF)
CF is one of the most common genetic diseases among Caucasians particularly Ashkenazi jews. The disease, however, affects all ethnic groups. CF is caused by lack of the protein (CFTR) responsible for balancing chloride levels in the body. CFTR protein deficiency causes recurrent lung infections as well as breathing difficulties, digestive and reproduction problems. CF symptoms vary from mild to severe. For a child to get CF, both parents have to be carriers of the disease. In such a case, the child has a 25% chance of getting CF.