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Translocations

The term translocation is used when the location of specific chromosome material changes. There are two main types of translocations: reciprocal and Robertsonian. In a reciprocal translocation, two different chromosomes have exchanged segments with each other.

Genetic illustration demonstrating reciprocal translocation

In a Robertsonian translocation, an entire chromosome attaches to another at the centromere. The centromere is the center part of a chromosome that looks pinched between the p and q arms.

Genetic illustration demonstrating Robertsonian translocation

This newly formed chromosome is called the translocation chromosome. The translocation in this example is between chromosomes 14 and 21. When a baby is born with this type of translocation chromosome in addition to one normal 14 and two normal 21 chromosomes, the baby will have Down syndrome. This is also called translocation Down syndrome.