Hereditary hemochromatosis is a
genetic disease. This means it is passed down from parents through their genes. It is
most common in whites whose families are from Northern Europe. Men and women are equally
affected by the disease. Hereditary hemochromatosis is one of the most common genetic
disorders in the U.S.
You may be born with this condition if you inherit two hemochromatosis genes, one from each parent. If you have only one of these genes, you are called a carrier of the gene. You don’t have symptoms. But you have a greater chance of having a child with this disease.
If parents without
hemochromatosis have a child with the disorder, there is a 25% chance that any
additional child may be born with the disease. Parents, children, and siblings
(first-degree relatives) of people with hemochromatosis should be screened for the
It’s more common for men with this condition to have too much iron. Men also tend to show symptoms at a younger age than women. This is likely because women lose iron each month when they have their period.