Slide show: How genetic disorders are inherited
Illustration of the human chromosomes
Previous Next 2 of 6 Human chromosomes

Most cells in your body normally contain 46 chromosomes, organized into 23 pairs. In each of these 23 pairs, you've inherited one chromosome from your father and one from your mother.

Of these 23 pairs, 22 pairs are nonsex chromosomes (autosomes) and the remaining pair is made up of sex chromosomes, which determine whether you're male (XY) or female (XX). This illustration shows chromosomes from a male cell.

Disorders may have a dominant or recessive inheritance pattern. Dominant inheritance means that only one copy of the gene (from either the mother or the father) needs to have a mutation for the trait or disease to be expressed. Recessive inheritance means the trait or disease will only occur if both copies of the gene (one from the mother and one from the father) are mutated.

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