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Baby planning: Inherited Diseases


Most couples feel that if they're disease-free and healthy, all is well and their children are guaranteed to be born healthy. Although most babies are born healthy and disease-free, all expectant couples must know that certain diseases like haemophilia, cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy, sickle cell anaemia, thalassaemia are inherited.

It is not necessary that if you or your partner don't suffer from any inherited disease, your child will not be affected. You may even be a carrier of the disease without knowing it.

This means that you may not suffer from the actual disease but could very well pass it on to your baby.

Even if any close relative in your or your partner's family has suffered from an inherited disease, your baby could be at risk.

If such is the case, you must consult a doctor before trying to conceive. Your doctor may refer you to a genetic counsellor who can give you more advice on the issue.


Whatever the outcome of the discussion with the genetic counsellor, the decision to carry on with the pregnancy is in your and your partner's. You will be advised about the nature of the risk and if you still decide to go ahead with the pregnancy, you will be offered support and assistance to help you cope with the problems.

Haemophilia: is a hereditary disorder with a tendency to bleed severely from even a slight injury, through the failure of the blood to clot normally.

Cystic Fibrosis: is a hereditary disease affecting the exocrine glands and resulting in respiratory infections.

Muscular Dystrophy: is a hereditary progressive weakening and wasting of the muscles.

Sickle Cell Anaemia: is a hereditary condition of the blood that causes severe anaemia. It mainly affects people of African or West Indian origin and also those of Mediterranean origin.

Thalassaemia: an inherited blood condition, it is usually seen in people of Mediterranean and Asian origin.

Genetic Counsellor: is specially trained to help people with a history of inherited genetic disorders. The counsellor will help determine the level of risk of the genetic disorder being passed over to your baby. A blood test may also be carried out and special invasive tests may be recommended to help in assessing the risk correctly.

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