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What can you do if DNA tests show that you are a hereditary hemochromatosis carrier?

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A person who is a hereditary hemochromatosis carrier according to DNA tests may wish to have his partner tested prior to having children to determine the chances of their offspring developing hemochromatosis, suggests GeneTrack Biolabs. He may also want to advise other family members to be tested for the gene.

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Hemochromatosis carriers carry one copy of the gene that causes the disease and usually do not develop the disease, explains eMedicineHealth. When a hemochromatosis carrier has children, he may pass the defective gene to them. If the other parent does not harbor a hemochromatosis gene, the couple's offspring do not develop the disease, but they have a 50 percent chance of being carriers. If both parents carry the defective gene, their children have a 25 percent chance of receiving a defective gene from each parent and developing hemochromatosis. The children have a 50 percent chance of being carriers.

Hemochromatosis is a hereditary disease that causes excess storage of iron in bodily organs, states Mayo Clinic. The liver, heart and pancreas are most likely to be affected. Excess iron in these organs can cause serious problems, such as cirrhosis, cancer and heart arrhythmias. While damage to organs begins early in life, signs of damage usually occur in people between the ages of 40 and 60, reports KidsHealth. Regular phlebotomy, the removal of blood from the body, is the treatment for hemochromatosis, notes Mayo Clinic. This returns iron levels in the body to normal.

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