Genetic disorders in children and young adults: a population study

Am J Hum Genet. 1988 May;42(5):677-93.


The data base of an ongoing population-based registry with multiple sources of ascertainment was used to estimate the present population load from genetic disease in more than 1 million consecutive live births. It was found that, before approximately age 25 years, greater than or equal to 53/1,000 live-born individuals can be expected to have diseases with an important genetic component. This total was composed of single-gene disorders (3.6/1,000), consisting of autosomal dominant (1.4/1,000), autosomal recessive (1.7/1,000), and X-linked recessive disorders (0.5/1,000). Chromosomal anomalies accounted for 1.8/1,000, multifactorial disorders (including those present at birth and those of onset before age 25 years) accounted for 46.4/1,000, and cases of genetic etiology in which the precise mechanism was not identified accounted for 1.2/1,000. Previous studies have usually considered all congenital anomalies (ICD 740-759) as part of the genetic load, but only those judged to fit into one of the above categories were included in the present study. Data for congenital anomalies are therefore also presented separately, to facilitate comparison with earlier studies. If all congenital anomalies are considered as part of the genetic load, then greater than or equal to 79/1,000 live-born individuals have been identified as having one or other genetic disorder before approximately age 25 years. These new data represent a better estimate of the genetic load in the population than do previous studies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • British Columbia
  • Child
  • Chromosome Aberrations
  • Chromosome Disorders
  • Genes, Dominant
  • Genes, Recessive
  • Genetic Diseases, Inborn / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Mutagens
  • Mutation*
  • Registries
  • Sex Chromosome Aberrations
  • X Chromosome


  • Mutagens