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Trisomy 18 (Edwards Syndrome) (cont.)

Genetic Changes Related to Trisomy 18

Most cases of trisomy 18 result from having three copies of chromosome 18 in each cell in the body instead of the usual two copies. The extra genetic material disrupts the normal course of development, causing the characteristic features of trisomy 18.

Approximately 5 percent of people with trisomy 18 have an extra copy of chromosome 18 in only some of the body's cells. In these people, the condition is called mosaic trisomy 18. The severity of mosaic trisomy 18 depends on the type and number of cells that have the extra chromosome. The development of individuals with this form of trisomy 18 may range from normal to severely affected.

Very rarely, the long (q) arm of chromosome 18 becomes attached (translocated) to another chromosome during the formation of reproductive cells (eggs and sperm) or very early in embryonic development. Affected people have two copies of chromosome 18, plus extra material from chromosome 18 attached to another chromosome. If only part of the q arm is present in three copies, the physical signs of translocation trisomy 18 may be different from those typically seen in trisomy 18. If the entire q arm is present in three copies, individuals may be as severely affected as if they had three full copies of chromosome 18.

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