Primary hemochromatosis is hereditary and caused by gene mutations that are passed from parent to child, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Secondary hemochromatosis results from repeated blood transfusions in people who suffer from acute anemia.
Offspring who inherit two abnormal genes — one from each parent — have a chance of being affected by hemochromatosis, explains Mayo Clinic. A child that has only one mutated gene does not develop the iron overload disorder but is considered a carrier. HFE is the most commonly mutated gene in cases of hemochromatosis. Genetic testing oftentimes confirms the presence of such abnormalities.