Most of the metabolic disorders that can be detected by newborn screenings are inherited in an “autosomal recessive” pattern. Autosomal recessive conditions affect both boys and girls equally.
How autosomal recessive inheritance works:
Everyone has a pair of genes for each enzyme in the body. A separate pair of genes is responsible for making each enzyme. A person with a metabolic disorder has one enzyme that is either missing or not working properly. The problem is caused by a pair of “recessive” genes that are not working correctly. They do not make the needed enzyme.
A person has to have two non-working “recessive” genes in order to have an autosomal recessive metabolic disorder. A person with an autosomal recessive disorder inherits one non-working gene from his or her mother and the other from his or her father. The parents are called carriers for that condition.
Parents of children with a metabolic disorder rarely have the disorder themselves. Instead, for that pair of genes, each parent has one that is working correctly and one that is not working (called the “recessive” gene). People with a single non-working gene are called carriers. If one gene of the pair is working correctly, it makes up for the recessive non-working gene. Therefore, carriers usually will not have the condition.