Although individually they may be rare, genetic diseases as a group are relatively common. Knowing about them before a pregnancy can help you understand risks you may have, make an action plan with your doctor and keep your pregnancy and baby as healthy as possible.
Examples of genetic conditions are:
- Cystic fibrosis (an inherited lung and digestive condition)
- Down syndrome (caused by a difference in the chromosomes)
- Inherited blood disorders (such as sickle-cell anemia and thalassemia)
- Spinal muscular atrophy (an inherited form of muscular dystrophy)
- Fragile X syndrome (an inherited form of intellectual disability)
Some genetic diseases may be more common in families with a certain ancestry or ethnic background, such as Ashkenazi Jewish or French Canadian families. In some situations, there are recommendations from professional medical groups for individuals and families to be offered genetic screening or testing before or during a pregnancy.
Certain family health patterns can also be signs of genetic diseases. Genetic experts are medical professionals trained to look for these signs, be aware of medical guidelines and help you understand genetic risks you may have to a future child. This may include talking about genetic testing options to better understand your genetic risks, as well as developing your action plan to reduce any risks to a pregnancy.