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A genetic condition is an illness, health problem or disability that happens because of a change in the instructions, known as genes, that tell your body how to grow and work properly.

What is a gene?

Each cell in the human body contains about 20,000 genes. A gene carries information about things that are passed on to you by your parents. This might be things like the colour of your hair and eyes, or the shape of your hands and feet. It can also include disabilities and conditions.

What causes a genetic condition?

Some genetic conditions are caused by genes that don’t work properly. This can be called a genetic alteration, variant or mutation. Other disabilities and conditions happen when there are missing or extra genes.

What does it mean?

People are born with a genetic condition, it cannot be caught like a cold. In a family some children might be born with a genetic condition and others might not be. Genes are part of what make us unique and different from one-another and no-one can control what genes they pass on to their children.

What treatment is there?

At the moment, genetic conditions cannot be cured. People who have genetic conditions can have different treatments to help them cope better with their disability or condition. Gene therapy is a new kind of medicine that is still being tested. Gene therapy can involve replacing a gene that is not working properly with a  healthy working gene. Research like this may lead to new ways to treat or prevent many genetic conditions in the future.

Information approved by Gene People, the genetic conditions support network March 2024