For many parents and their children, small differences between them are endlessly frustrating. Trying to understand why your child reacts so negatively to their environment, struggles to keep active, or continually falls ill is distressing, especially when they’re young. For moms and moms-to-be, understanding the most common genetic disorders and what to do to catch them early will help prevent many days of frustration and heartbreak.
The Most Common Genetic Disorders
A genetic disorder is a disease or condition that shows up when looking at a child’s DNA sequence. Sometimes, parents pass down these disorders, but they can also happen randomly through slight changes in the DNA. Some of the most common genetic disorders in children include:
- Down Syndrome
- Cystic Fibrosis
- Sickle Cell Anemia
- Tay-Sachs Disease
Why Testing Makes an Impact
Performing genetic testing can alert parents to whether or not their child is at risk for these disorders. Finding out early if your child is susceptible to specific diseases or illnesses can help your family coordinate with a pediatrician on prevention and awareness. If tests suggest a risk of childhood cancers, your family can examine pertinent lifestyle or environmental choices with a doctor and learn about potential signs to look for as your child grows to tackle conditions as early as possible.
How to Prepare for That Potential
For families with a history of diseases or disorders, whether hereditary or caused by genetic predisposition, there are ways to prepare for the potential of a child struggling with health issues. Signs can also become apparent in the womb to help inform parents of potential differences.
If ultrasounds suggest a child may have Down syndrome, parents can begin attending support groups and educating themselves about raising a child with Down syndrome. If a parent worries they may pass down the sickle cell gene to their child, they can consider banking the umbilical cord blood upon birth to preserve stem cells for future stem cell therapy, so they don’t have to wait to find a matching donor if needed.
Rarely are the results of genetic tests a guarantee. If your child is diagnosed with one of the most common genetic disorders in children, there is support out there for your family to help you adjust to a new way of life and keep everyone as happy and healthy as possible. Should you become concerned that your child is showing signs of a genetic disorder or disease, consult with a pediatrician as soon as possible to ensure that you can make the best choices for your child’s health moving forward.