Cystic fibrosis and sickle cell anemia are both autosomal recessive genetic disorders. This means that both conditions result when an offspring inherits a defective gene from both parents. A person is a carrier of either cystic fibrosis or sickle cell anemia if they have one of the defective genes associated with the condition. Typically, people who are carriers of an autosomal recessive disorder do not show symptoms of the disorder. Your child has a 25 percent chance of having either condition if you and your partner are both carriers.
Both cystic fibrosis and sickle cell anemia are common genetic conditions. Cystic fibrosis is common in Caucasians, while sickle cell anemia is common in African-Americans. Approximately 1 in 2,500 Caucasian infants are born with cystic fibrosis, and about 25 percent of Caucasians of northern European descent are carriers for the condition. Sickle cell anemia occurs in approximately 1 in 600 African-American infants, and about 1 in 12 African-Americans are carriers of the condition.