What are Genetic Blood Disorders?

Instructor: Ebony Potts

Ebony has taught middle and high school physical science, life science & biology. She's also been an assistant principal and has a doctorate in educational administration.

Have you ever heard of a genetic disorder? What about a genetic blood disorder? In this lesson you will learn what causes genetic blood disorders as well the names of the most commonly occurring ones.

Genetic Disorders

Has anyone ever told you that you look just like your mother or father? The reason is because families share traits. Your cousin's eye color and your grandfather's height are each characteristics passed down from family DNA. Unfortunately, sometimes traits that can be harmful are also passed down from one generation to the next.

In order for traits to be passed on to offspring, the DNA must be copied. Sometimes mistakes are made in the copying process that can either be harmless or cause huge problems. A genetic disorder is a condition caused by damaged, incomplete, or incorrect DNA passed from parent to offspring. Sometimes both parents have one genetic mistake that doesn't express itself; you'd never know anything was wrong. But if their offspring get both of the miscopied gene, it can create a genetic disorder or disease. There are many types of genetic disorders; today we will focus on inheritable blood disorders.

Types of Inherited Blood Disorders

Red blood cells

Here are a few of the most common blood disorders:


If you fall and scrape your knee, you will bleed a little, get a scab, and eventually your scrape will heal. Your body healed because of clotting factors, or proteins in the blood that help form a sticky mass (clot) wherever there is an injury. This clot helps stop blood loss and further damage.

But what if you fell, scraped your knee, and your leg just bled, and bled, and bled? That is what can happen to someone with one type of inheritable blood disorder called hemophilia. Hemophilia is a lack of sufficient clotting factor in the blood and is most commonly passed down from a mother to her son. It is treated by providing the patient with artificial clotting factors and or blood transfusions.

Von Willebrand Disease

Von Willebrand disease is another genetic disorder defined by lack of sufficient clotting factors in the blood. Von Willebrand disease is milder than hemophilia, but more common. It effects men and women, but women are especially affected by the disease during their menstrual cycles.

Von Willebrand disease is broken down into three types (Types 1, 2, and 3) based on the amount of clotting factor in the blood, from mildest Type 1 (most common) to the most severe Type 3 (least common). Von Willebrand is treated similarly as hemophilia, with blood transfusions and or artificial clotting factors.

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