What are the chances of passing on a genetic disorder?

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In a way, you and your partner are the blueprint for your family’s future. Things you don’t even know about yourself have the potential to shape a brand-new person. As you’re planning for the future, you want to learn as much about yourself and your partner as possible to find out what this new person could be like.

What are your family and medical histories, and are there any inherited genetic traits to be aware of? You might have some knowledge of genetic disorders, but the actual chances of passing one down can be fuzzy when you don’t have all the information.

What are genetic disorders?

Genetic disorders are caused by a change in DNA sequence, which can come from a few different sources. Mutations, environmental factors, or damage to chromosomes can all cause your genes to function in ways that could affect your health, and some of those affected genes can be passed down. It’s also possible to carry an affected gene without displaying any symptoms or experiencing any adverse health effects.

Because the signs and symptoms of a genetic disorder are so varied (and sometimes nonexistent), the best way to find out is to take a genetic test. Our partners at VeriYou offer an at-home genetic test that screens for both cystic fibrosis and spinal muscular atrophy, two of the most common inherited genetic disorders.

To better understand your personal chances of passing on a genetic disorder, it can be helpful to look at your family history, ethnicity, and your partner’s status as a carrier. Your individual risk can inform major health decisions you and your partner will make as well as help you decide what genetic screenings you may want to do before conceiving.

Family history

Because genetic disorders are just that, genetic, a family history of a particular genetic disorder could be an indicator that you’re a carrier. Right now is a really good time for you to talk your your family and learn more about your and your partner’s family history beyond just parents and grandparents. However, it’s also important to remember that you could be a carrier with no family history whatsoever.


Certain genetic disorders are more common among people with specific ancestry, which is tied closely to ethnicity. For example, medical guidelines suggest that screening for cystic fibrosis is appropriate for all ethnicities, but it can especially important for people with Caucasian, Ashkenazi Jewish, or Hispanic families because their risk is higher.

Being aware of how your risk of carrying a genetic disorder is tied to your ethnicity can help you make an informed decision about which disorders to be tested for.

Partner status

Children have two copies of every gene: one from each parent. If you and your partner are carriers of the same genetic disorder, there is a 25% chance that your child will inherit the disorder, a 25% chance that they won’t, and a 50% chance they’ll be a carrier for it. With VeriYou, you and your partner can be tested for both cystic fibrosis and spinal muscular atrophy, which is the best way to determine what the chances of passing on those disorders really are.

Learn more about how to get a physician-ordered screening test for two common genetic disorders from VeriYou by tapping the button below.

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