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What is a dominant disease?

Dominant diseases, also known as autosomal dominant disorders, can be caused by only one copy of a gene with a DNA mutation. If one parent has a disease, each child has a 50% chance of inheriting the mutated gene.

How is a dominant disease inherited?

A dominant disease is typically inherited when at least one gene that has the DNA mutation from either the mother, father, or both is passed down to the child. If one parent has a dominant disease each child has a 50% chance of inheriting the mutated gene. Less commonly, a DNA dominant disease is inherited when the DNA mutation occurs at the time of conception within the embryo. 

How can you tell the difference between a dominant and recessive disease?

If at least one parent, either the mother or father, has the trait or phenotype it is typically considered a dominant trait. If neither parent has the trait or phenotype it is typically a recessive trait. 

What are examples of a dominant disease?

An example of a dominant disease, also known as an autosomal dominant disorder, is Huntington’s disease — a disease that affects the nervous system. A person only needs to inherit one copy of the gene that encodes the mutation, from either their mother or their father. 

Learn more about Dominant Disease:

Photo of Kristin Ricklefs-Johnson

Medically reviewed by:

Kristin Ricklefs-Johnson, Ph.D., RD

Kristin is an RDN who also earned her Ph.D. in Nutrition from Arizona State University with an emphasis on insulin resistance, lipid metabolism disorders, and obesity. She completed her post-doctoral fellowship at Mayo Clinic where she focused on nutrition-related proteomic and metabolic research. Her interests include understanding the exact mechanism of action of various genetic variations underlying individual predispositions to nutrition-related health outcomes. Her goal is to help all individuals prevent chronic diseases and achieve long, healthy lives through eating well.

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