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A genetic disorder is a condition caused by abnormalities in genes or chromosomes. While some diseases, such as cancer, are due to genetic abnormalities acquired in a few cells during life, the term "genetic disease" most commonly refers to diseases present in all cells of the body and present since conception. Some genetic disorders are caused by chromosomal abnormalities due to errors in meiosis, the process which produces reproductive cells such as sperm and eggs. Examples include Down syndrome (extra chromosome 21), Turner Syndrome (45X0) and Klinefelter's syndrome (a male with 2 X chromosomes). Other genetic changes may occur during the production of germ cells by the parent. One example is the triplet expansion repeat mutations which can cause fragile X syndrome or Huntington's disease. Defective genes may also be inherited intact from the parents. In this case, the genetic disorder is known as a hereditary disease. This can often happen unexpectedly when two healthy carriers of a defective recessive gene reproduce, but can also happen when the defective gene is dominant.
Currently about 4,000 genetic disorders are known, with more being discovered. Most disorders are quite rare and affect one person in every several thousands or millions. Cystic fibrosis is one of the most common genetic disorders; around 5% of the population of the United States carry at least one copy of the defective gene. Some types of recessive gene disorder confer an advantage in the heterozygous state in certain environments. 
Genetic diseases are typically diagnosed and treated by geneticists. Genetic counselors assist the physicians and directly counsel patients. The study of genetic diseases is a scientific discipline whose theoretical underpinning is based on population genetics.
Additional recommended knowledge
Single gene disorders
Where genetic disorders are the result of a single mutated gene they can be passed on to subsequent generations in the ways outlined in the table below. Genomic imprinting and uniparental disomy, however, may affect inheritance patterns. The divisions between recessive and dominant are not "hard and fast" although the divisions between autosomal and X-linked are (related to the position of the gene). For example, achondroplasia is typically considered a dominant disorder, but children with two genes for achondroplasia have a severe skeletal disorder that achondroplasics could be viewed as carriers of. Sickle-cell anemia is also considered a recessive condition, but carriers that have it by half along with the normal gene have increased immunity to malaria in early childhood, which could be described as a related dominant condition.
Multifactorial and polygenic disorders
Genetic disorders may also be complex, multifactorial or polygenic, this means that they are likely associated with the effects of multiple genes in combination with lifestyle and environmental factors. Multifactoral disorders include heart disease and diabetes. Although complex disorders often cluster in families, they do not have a clear-cut pattern of inheritance. This makes it difficult to determine a person’s risk of inheriting or passing on these disorders. Complex disorders are also difficult to study and treat because the specific factors that cause most of these disorders have not yet been identified.
On a pedigree, polygenic diseases do tend to “run in families”, but the inheritance does not fit simple patterns as with Mendelian diseases. But this does not mean that the genes cannot eventually be located and studied. There is also a strong environmental component to many of them (e.g., blood pressure).
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Genetic_disorder". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.