Hemophilia is a rare genetic blood disorder involving a lack of clot proteins essential to the body’s ability to effectively stop bleeding. Symptoms include unwarranted, excessive, and prolonged bleeding, leading to potentially life-threatening complications, especially when that bleeding is internal. So what are the risks associated with hemophilia?
There is no known cure for hemophilia; however, by utilizing proper risk management strategies in conjunction with ongoing medical supervision and care, hemophiliacs are better able to lead healthy lives.
Hemophilia primarily affects males—particularly those with family histories including the disorder (although a third of all hemophiliacs report zero history of the disease in their family). Below are some of the risks associated with hemophilia based on gender, age, and racial and ethnicity considerations.
Hemophilia appears in three main forms, two of which are genetic. Hemophilia types A and B are both passed down through the X chromosome of the mother. An asymptomatic mother carrying the hemophilia gene may impart it unto her son since males only receive one X chromosome. Females acquire two X chromosomes—one from each parent—with the recessive hemophilia gene of the mother getting overridden by the dominant chromosome of the father. However, the female can carry this gene without showing symptoms, thereby potentially passing it down to her children. In this way, the daughter of a female carrying the hemophilia gene has a 50% chance of carrying the hemophilia gene as well, and a son would have a 50% chance of having hemophilia.
The third, and much rarer, hemophilia type C, is not caused by sex chromosomes, but rather by both parents being carriers of the gene.
Due to the fact that nearly all cases of hemophilia are genetically determined, therefore meaning the genes are present even prior to birth, innovative prenatal tests are sometimes administered — especially when there is a family history of the disorder.
Although the majority of hemophilia cases are diagnosed before nine months of age, less severe forms of hemophilia may not produce symptoms until adulthood.
Racial and Ethnicity Factors
Although hemophilia generally affects all races and ethnic groups in equal measure, according to the National Hemophilia Foundation, hemophilia type C is particularly prevalent among Ashkenazi Jewish descendants, likely due to higher rates of intermarriage.
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