Genetics & family

How genes get passed down and what it means for family planning.

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Humans are made up of building blocks called cells.

Within these cells are DNA molecules that are connected to form a sequence. They carry instructions that tells our bodies how to grow, develop and function.

These DNA sequences are packed into 23 pairs of chromosomes.

These chromosomes kind of look like squiggly blobs. Most people have 46 total chromosomes, in 23 pairs. Also useful to know is that the last pair determines your sex.

We inherit chromosomes from our parents.

For each pair of chromosome, you inherit one from your biological mother and one from your biological father. Each chromosome contains thousands of genes that carry instructions for how our body works.

As humans, most of our DNA sequences are exactly the same.

In fact, all humans are 99.3% the same each person to the next. That tiny .7% difference is what makes each one of us unique.

These .7% of differences are called variants.

Since we inherit DNA from our parents, we often carry the same variants.

This is also how we often get family traits like hair color, eye color or that dreaded bald patch (damn you, grandpa!).

These variants have been passed down parent to child, generation after generation.

This is why certain genetic conditions often affect certain ethnicities more than others, and are important to consider for healthcare.

When planning a family, it’s important to think about what we pass on to our kids.

Some of these are no big deal in the grand scheme of things, like hair or eye colour. Others, though, can impact our children’s health. Carrier testing helps you understand those risks.

If two people are carriers for the same disease, there’s a one in four chance that their children would be affected by this disease.

Carrier testing helps you understand these risks — if any.

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