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Psoriasis: The Genetic Connection

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My wife and I are expecting our first child this winter. Having a child on the way certainly puts a lot of things in perspective and makes you think about things you perhaps never considered before. Yes, I find myself wondering whether by my child will be an athlete, an artist, a great chef or a brilliant scholar? But most importantly, my wife and I wonder and hope that our child will be healthy and happy. And for me, I often wonder if my child will suffer from psoriasis like me.

For most of the past decade, I have suffered from psoriasis, a disease that appeared out of nowhere, and left me often wondering where it came from. With no known history of the disease in my family, I was left questioning: was it environmental factors, was it my diet, was it related to another illness, or was it genetic? According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, many factors can contribute to the onset of psoriasis, but there is little doubt that psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis have genetic connections. About one in three psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis sufferers reports that a family member has the same disease.

According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, “Psoriasis is believed to be a genetic disease, but it does not follow a typical dominant or recessive pattern of inheritance. No one can predict who will get psoriasis as researchers do not completely understand how psoriasis is passed from one generation to another. The pattern of inheritance probably involves multiple genes or combinations of many genes, and the search is on to find those genes.”

So how likely is a child of a psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis sufferer to inherit the condition? The National Psoriasis Foundation reports that if one parent has psoriasis, the child has an approximately 10% chance of having psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis. If both parents have the condition, the child’s chances increase to approximately 50%.

While there is currently no cure for psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, the diseases continue to gain awareness and attention as researchers work towards a cure. We all hope that a cure can be found someday soon so that future generations will never have to suffer from these very difficult and often debilitating diseases.

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