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Typhoid Mary, but who does not display that trait or show symptoms of the disease. They are, however, able to pass the gene onto their offspring, who may then express the gene. This phenomenon is a direct result of the recessive nature of many genes.
For example, the daughters of Queen Victoria, the princesses Alice and Beatrix, were carriers of the X-linked hemophilia gene (more precisely, an abnormal allele of a gene necessary to produce one of the blood clotting factors). Both had children who continued to pass the gene to succeeding generations of the royal houses of Spain and Russia, into which they married. Males who carried the altered gene had hemophilia, while females simply passed it to about half of their children.
Up to 1 in 25 individuals of Northern European ancestry may be considered carriers of mutations that could lead to Cystic Fibrosis. The disease appears only when two of these carriers have children (25% of whom will be affected by the disease). However, it is also thought that carriers may be more resistant to diarrhea during typhoid fever or cholera, and are therefore not truly asymptomatic. This resistance leads to increased survival of the carriers, thereby increasing the frequency of the altered genes in the population.
Genetic carrier testing can be used to tell if a person carries one or more mutations of the CF gene and how many copies of each mutation. The test looks at a person’s DNA (genetic material), which is taken from cells in a blood sample or from cells that are gently scraped from inside the mouth.
Although only about one of every 3,000 Caucasian newborns has CF, there are more than 1,000 known mutations of the gene that causes CF. Current tests look for the most common mutations. The american college of ob/gyn recommends a 23 gene test as the current standard although i've seen reports with up to 97 genes tested.
The mutations screened by the test vary according to a person's race or ethnic group, or by the occurrence of CF already in the family. More than 10 million Americans, including one in 29 Caucasian Americans, are carriers of one mutation of the CF gene. In other races or ethnicities, one in 46 Hispanic Americans, one in 65 African Americans and one in 90 Asian Americans carry a mutation of the CF gene.
If you have a relative with CF or who is known to carry a mutation of the CF gene, your chances of carrying a mutation are greater because of your family's history. If you are pregnant or planning to have a child, you should discuss this test and the results with a health professional who is knowledgeable about genetic testing, such as a genetic counselor.
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