Chromosome Analysis (Karyotyping)

A Chromosome Analysis or Karyotype, looks at the number, shape and size of chromosomes in a person's cells. A chromosome contains a person's genetic code as tightly coiled DNA. Chromosomes contain the blueprint or instructions for how a person is made up.

There are 23 chromosomes pairs in each individual cell in the body. 22 of these chromosome pairs are essentially copies of each other but the final pair is different and will determine the gender of the child. This 23rd pair can consist of X or Y chromosomes. The Y chromosome is much shorter than the X chromosome and it is the Y chromosome that, if inherited determines that the baby will be male.

Occasionally a person may be born with a normal phenotype (physical appearance) but some of their chromosomes may be damaged, missing or in the wrong place, attached to another chromosome. When this happens, it can have severe consequences for their offspring.

Karyotyping takes a snapshot of the 23 chromosome paris to check that the gross structure of the genetic material is in the right place.

Chromosomal abnormalities can prevent a woman from becoming pregnant or cause fetal death and miscarriage.

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