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Search Health Information    Gene

Gene

A gene is a section of the genetic material or deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) in a cell. Genes, alone or in combination, determine what features (genetic traits) a person inherits from his or her parents, such as blood type, hair color, eye color, and other characteristics, including risks for certain diseases.

Many genes together make up chromosomes. Defects in genes or chromosomes may cause changes in certain body processes or functions. These changes may be undetectable or may cause genetic diseases, such as hemophilia or Down syndrome. Genetic problems may also increase the risk for some conditions, such as juvenile idiopathic arthritis and depression.

Gene changes (mutations) can be passed from parents to children. Diseases that run in families are often caused by genetic defects. A person may be born with a certain genetic makeup that makes him or her susceptible or at risk for a certain condition.

Last Revised: November 29, 2012

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Siobhan M. Dolan, MD, MPH - Reproductive Genetics

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

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