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Hereditary Haemochromatosis: The Celtic Disease 

What is the Celtic Disease? 

The Celtic Disease is a genetic disorder and the medical term for it is Hereditary Haemochromatosis (HH). The name ‘Celtic Disease’ comes from the fact that it is mostly found in Celtic Nations - Ireland, Scotland, Isle of Man, Wales, Cornwall, and Brittany. It will develop only if your mother and father both carry the defective gene.  

People of Irish heritage are more likely than any other ethnic group to carry the gene that leads to Haemochromatosis. One in five Irish people are carriers of the mutated gene and one in ten people are at risk of developing iron overload.  

Haemochromatosis is a disorder that is characterised by iron overload. Iron is essential to all plants, animals, and human life. Normally, our body controls the amount we need to absorb to remain healthy and secretes the rest. If you have the mutated HH gene or have the condition, your body may store too much iron which is deposited in other vital organs such as the heart, liver, and pancreas. This affects the ability of the organ to function effectively.  

This is an extract from Irish in Britain's Fact Sheet on Haemochromatosis. You can read and download it HERE.