WebMD
Font Size
A
A
A

Carrier

A carrier is a person who can pass an inherited (genetic) disease on to his or her children but who does not have the disease. The person can also pass on carrier status.

Some diseases are caused by defects in a person's chromosomes or genes. Each person inherits 23 chromosomes from each parent and so has 23 pairs of chromosomes. One or both of the chromosomes in a pair may be damaged or defective in a way that causes an inherited (genetic) disease.

The chromosomes are made up of genes. A gene is a portion of DNA that controls or helps control one trait, such as eye color or hair texture. A change in a gene can cause a genetic disease. In some cases the same gene on both chromosomes in a pair must be defective for the person to have the disease. This is known as an autosomal recessive disease. If only one of the genes in the pair is affected, the person may be a carrier.

Some genetic disorders are caused by defects in the X and Y chromosomes, which determine a person's sex.

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Siobhan M. Dolan, MD, MPH - Reproductive Genetics
Current as of March 12, 2014

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 12, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.