Genetic Factors

How is Fabry disease inherited?

Fabry disease is not contagious, but it is a hereditary condition that can be genetically inherited from parents to children.

Every cell in the human body contains chromosomes that carries genetic information. Females have two X chromosomes in each cell (an X from each parent), and males have one X and one Y chromosome (an X from their mother and a Y from their father)1.

The gene that is altered in Fabry disease is located on the X chromosome. This means that men are always affected by the disease, whereas women may not have symptoms, or their symptoms may be less severe or appear later in life2.

A carrier mother will have a 50/50 chance of passing the affected gene to her children (whether a boy or a girl), whereas an affected father will pass on the affected gene to his daughters but not his sons1.

To determine the risk of inheriting Fabry disease for your relatives, a doctor will ask for your family's medical history, and map out genetic relationships on a family tree: this is called pedigree analysis3.

A medical genetic counsellor can work to develop a medical pedigree and establish who within the family is at risk4.


Depending on which parent contributes the X chromosome containing the genetic mutation, Fabry disease is passed to children differently3.

An affected father (XY) will pass the mutation to all of his daughters, but none of his sons1.

An affected mother (XX) will have a 50% chance of passing the mutation to any of her children1.