Know Your Genetic Risk Before You Conceive
Many diseases that can be passed on to your children are preventable through genetic testing
Most prospective parents don’t even think about getting genetic testing before they conceive. For most of human history, we have relied on fate to give us healthy babies. But all that changed after the discovery of DNA and scientists’ subsequent mapping of genetic markers for diseases.
As a physician who helps couples get pregnant, I know first-hand that genetic testing can be a life-saver. I’m a big proponent of genetic testing and I think the best time to be tested is prior to a pregnancy. This testing can be done at our Baton Rouge and Lafayette clinics.
We all know that the genes babies inherit from their parents pass along family characteristics like hair and eye color. Sometimes they also pass on genetic diseases. This can happen even if the parents don’t have any symptoms. If two people are carriers for the same condition, there’s a one in four chance their children could develop symptoms.
Each year millions of healthy parents are taken by surprise when their children are born with life-threatening genetic disorders. These parents are carriers: healthy individuals who nevertheless have a mutant version of a critical gene.
Even though every couple has a 2-3% risk of birth defects, certain ethnic groups are at increased risk for carrying the traits of specific diseases. For example, people of Caucasian and European descent have a 1 in 28 risk for Cystic Fibrosis. African Americans have an increased risk for Sickle Cell Disease. People of Ashkenazi Jewish descent have an increased incidence of Gaucher’s Disease. And right here in South Louisiana, people with Cajun and French Canadian ancestry have a 1 in 30 risk of Tay-Sach’s Disease.
A simple test can say a lot.
These diseases can be prevented by a simple test administered before you and your spouse get pregnant. Genetic testing allows a couple to learn about their carrier status. If they are carriers they have the luxury of time to learn about the disease risk and discuss it with their doctor.
The new medical consensus is that every adult should be offered genetic testing before pregnancy. Early testing is the only way to know if your pregnancy will be at high risk. Early testing also allows us to take specific actions to conceive a healthy child.
At Fertility Answers, we offer pre-conception testing to see if parents are carriers for serious and even life-threatening diseases. The Universal Genetic Test is the first carrier test for men and women of all ethnic backgrounds. Using the most advanced technology available, the test combines over 100 separate DNA tests into a single screen that uses a small sample of saliva or blood.
If you are trying to get pregnant, ask us about pre-conception genetic testing to prevent passing an inheritable disease on to your future children.