Fanconi anemia (FA) occurs in all racial and ethnic groups and affects men and women equally.
In the United States and Europe, about 1 out of every 300 people is an FA carrier. This carrier rate leads to 1 in 360,000 people being born with FA.
Two ethnic groups—Ashkenazi Jews (Jews of Eastern European descent) and Afrikaners (people native to South Africa)—are more likely than other groups to have FA or be FA carriers.
In the United States, 1 out of 90 Ashkenazi Jews is a carrier, and 1 out of 30,000 is born with FA. In South Africa, Afrikaners have a carrier rate of 1 in 77, and 1 out of every 22,000 Afrikaners is born with FA.
Major Risk Factors
FA is an inherited disease—that is, it's passed from parents to children through the genes. At least 13 faulty genes are associated with FA. FA develops if both parents pass the same faulty FA gene to their child.
Children born into families with a history of FA are at risk of inheriting the disorder. Children whose mothers and fathers both have family histories of FA are at even greater risk for FA. A family history of FA means that it's possible that a parent carries a faulty gene associated with the disorder.
Children whose parents both carry the same faulty gene are at greatest risk for inheriting FA. Even if these children aren't born with FA, they're still at risk of being FA carriers.
Children who have only one parent who carries a faulty FA gene also are at risk of being carriers. However, they're not at risk of being born with FA.