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Discuss why a genetic disease might have a particular age of onset. Would an infectious disease have an age of onset? Explain why or why not.

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Answered 2 years ago
Answered 2 years ago

Oftentimes, the age of onset coincides with a particular stage of development. Throughout the life span of an individual, from embryonic through adult life, the pattern of gene expression changes. Some genes are turned on only during embryonic stages, some are turned on during fetal stages, some are turned on at birth, some are turned on at adolescence, etc. An individual who is carrying a mutant gene may not manifest any disorder until the time in life when the gene is supposed to be expressed. For example, many genetic diseases manifest themselves after birth. Prior to birth, an individual may develop properly and be born a healthy baby. After birth, the baby begins a new developmental phase, and at this point, new genes may be turned on. If one or both copies of a “newborn” gene (i.e., a gene turned on at birth) are mutant, this may lead to a serious disorder, with an age of onset that occurs during infancy. An infectious disease would probably not have a particular age of onset, because people could be exposed to the infectious agent at any time in their lives. Therefore, most infectious diseases do not have a predictable age of onset, although some diseases are more common in children or older people.

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