Some genetic disorders are more likely to occur among people who trace their ancestry to a particular geographic area. People in an ethnic group often share certain versions of their genes, which have been passed down from common ancestors. If one of these shared genes contains a disease-causing mutation, a particular genetic disorder may be more frequently seen in the group.
Examples of genetic conditions that are more common in particular ethnic groups are sickle cell disease, which is more common in people of African, African American, or Mediterranean heritage; and Tay-Sachs disease, which is more likely to occur among people of Ashkenazi (eastern and central European) Jewish or French Canadian ancestry. It is important to note, however, that these disorders can occur in any ethnic group.
The Norton & Elaine Sarnoff Center for Jewish Genetics provides information on disorders that occur more frequently in people with Jewish ancestry, including genetic traits that tend to be more common in Ashkenazi Jews and Sephardic Jews.
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