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Multifactorial inheritance disorders

Related Terms

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Background

  • Multifactorial inheritance disorders are malformations and diseases which are caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Such disorders are complex in their origin due to the convergence of a number of influences at times including multiple genes and external variables (nongenetic e.g., diet, lifestyle, exposure to chemicals, etc). Multifactorial inheritance disorders represent the single largest class of genetic disorders affecting the human population and include some of the most common health problems such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes, as well as other more rare diseases.
  • Genetic factors: Multifactorial inheritance of diseases may involve the presence of mutations in a small number of genes (oligogenic) or many genes (polygenic). The pattern of inheritance of these faulty genes (mutations) is complex and may be predicted only to a certain extent. Some of the mutations may be present since birth (inherited) while others may arise from the influence of various environmental factors (e.g., exposure to chemicals, radiation, etc.) during an individual's life time.
  • Multifactorial inheritance disorders tend to run in families. Thus, a person's family health history may be an indication that a faulty gene (or set of genes) is running in the family. For multifactorial disorders, there is an increased risk of developing the condition among first, second, and third degree relatives of the affected individual. First degree relatives are parents, children, brothers, and sisters. Second degree relatives are grandparents, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews, and grandchildren. Third degree relatives are first cousins. For most of the multifactorial inheritance disorders, there is a baseline risk of approximately 2-5% for first degree relatives, about half of that percentage for second degree, and about a quarter for third degree relatives. Other factors such as severity, relative age at which afflicted, and sexual preference of the disorder may alter these probabilities in a given individual.
  • Environmental factors: Other factors involved in the development of multifactorial inheritance disorders may be internal such as aging or external such as diet, lifestyle, exposure to chemical, toxins, radiation, drugs, and viruses.
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Methods

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Research

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Implications

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Limitations

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Safety

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Future Research

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Author Information

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References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.