Fanconi anemia (FA) occurs in all racial and ethnic groups and affects men and women equally.
In the United States, about 1 out of every 181 people is an FA carrier. This carrier rate leads to about 1 in 130,000 people being born with FA.
Two ethnic groups, Ashkenazi Jews and Afrikaners, are more likely than other groups to have FA or be FA carriers.
Ashkenazi Jews are people who are descended from the Jewish population of Eastern Europe. Afrikaners are White natives of South Africa who speak a language called Afrikaans. This ethnic group is descended from early Dutch, French, and German settlers.
In the United States, 1 out of 90 Ashkenazi Jews is an FA carrier, and 1 out of 30,000 is born with FA.
Major Risk Factors
FA is an inherited disease—that is, it's passed from parents to children through genes. At least 13 faulty genes are associated with FA. FA occurs if both parents pass the same faulty FA gene to their child.
Children born into families with histories 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. 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 of 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 having FA.