Ancestry-Based Inherited Diseases

Some diseases are known to occur in people with a specific ancestry, such as sickle cell anemia in people of African ancestry, Tay-Sachs disease in people of Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry and Familial Mediterranean Fever in people of Arab, Turkish, Armenian and Sephardic Jewish ancestry. Some people know their ancestry, and others don’t have that specific information. We can help in either case by discussing genetic testing options.

Individuals and families may choose to undergo genetic evaluation, testing, and counseling. Genetic testing involves a small blood sample. Results are reviewed and personalized management plans are developed. Henry Ford Medical Genetics works closely with other specialties to help individuals and families receive the most expert and comprehensive care.

Diseases specific to certain ancestries include:

African ancestry

  • Sickle Cell Disease, a blood disorder

Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry

  • Familial dysautonomia, a neurological disease
  • Tay-Sachs disease, a neurodegenerative disease
  • Canavan disease, a neurodegenerative disease
  • Niemann-Pick disease, a neurodegenerative disease
  • Mucolipidosis Type IV, a neurodegenerative disease
  • Cystic Fibrosis, a disorder affecting the lungs, digestive system, and reproductive system
  • Fanconi Anemia Group C, a disorder with an increased risk for leukemia, mental retardation, and birth defects
  • Bloom Syndrome, a disease causing short stature, immune deficiency, skin sensitivity to sunlight, and a predisposition to cancer
  • Glycogen Storage Disease Type 1A, a disease associated with severe low blood sugar and growth retardation. Long-term complications include gout, liver tumors, osteoporosis, and kidney disease.

Populations originating from the Mediterranean, especially North African Jews, Armenians, Turks, and Arab Americans

  • Familial Mediterranean Fever, a condition of recurrent fevers, inflammation, abdominal attacks, and other symptoms
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