Aug 5, 2010
Posted in Pre Pregnancy
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Scan your family tree before planning a baby



One might have inherited one’s mother’s green eyes or one’s grandpa’s freckled look, but does one know what other features are inherited down the generations which are not noticeable.

Prior to trying conception, looking closely at one’s kin’s health past is important and could turn out to be the finest decisions one had made – for oneself and future kids.

‘All in the Genes’

There are several thousand heritable conditions – means a disease arising due to absence or flaw in gene – however it is not necessarily true that all these are being passed down generations. At times gene flaws develop due to environment-related exposures. Human beings continually face exposure to small dosages of biologically active chemical substances many of which are hormone disrupters. Hence in case one does locate something in one’s family history which appears to be startling, it does not essentially mean a reason to be worried about. For instance, Down’s syndrome is heritable; however it does not generally run in families and arises due to presence of an additional chromosome. The flaw generally occurs during conception and Down’s syndrome is not a condition which a parent could pass on.

On the basis of history provided, one’s family physician, obstetrician and gynaecologist or genetic counsellor could assist the person in determining the appropriate plan-of-action, particularly when becoming parents is imminent. Specialists recommend addressing such matters prior to conception so that any likely risks could be identified and managed right away.

Some populaces carry a higher risk of being carriers and pass down specific conditions. A number of prevalent autosomal recessive conditions and the races in which they are prevalent are:

Cystic fibrosis – Caucasians

Tay-Sachs – Ashkenazi Jews

Sickle cell disease – Afro-Americans

When both the parental sides are gene carriers then there is a one in 4 likelihood of passing the condition on to their offspring. Generally, a basic blood test could ascertain whether one is a carrier or not.

In some couples their child-bearing plans would need to be modified by diverse test outcomes while among others the seventy-five percent chance that their baby would not be affected is reassuring enough to go ahead with whatever decisions are best-suited to them.

Turn into a Kin History Super Sleuth

In case one’s kin is shying away from talking about personal matters or one’s  family tree is amiss of a couple  of information, one could garner data one needs. Some basic communication and researching skills could assist one is locating the information one needs to facilitate one’s physician in precisely assessing one’s family history.

Kin re-unions, vacation get-togethers and holidays are an ideal time to enquire – many relatives who work jointly could be able to give an inkling of some precise data. In case one’s family members and relatives reside in remote locations and do not meet up that frequently, then sending a group mail explaining the info one intends on gathering. Even one’s relations would be benefited from the researching one is doing.

One could explicate to one’s family the reason and significance for gathering data about any disease background so that any likely impact on future generations could be comprehended.

One could begin with speaking to one’s parents and working one’s course upwards and also to all relatives or long-standing buddies of the family could also be of assistance.

Both partners would require compiling their respective family histories to assist them in proactive management of their own health.

One could rummage for info hidden in kin bible books, infant books and trunks containing old snaps. Even many internet resources could assist a person in tracking his/her lineage. The government’s help could be sought for locating info about births, deaths and conjugal certificate. One could gather when kin members were born and died and reasons for demise as well as jotting down any medical conditions like cancers, cardiovascular ailments, birth anomalies, stroke, diabetes and the rough age when the problems arose.

When all the possible info has been gathered it could then be discussed with one’s physician. Several gynaecologists request new-fangled patients for filling out paper work about kin history and at times a physician might suggest seeking advice of genetic counsellors for additional tests and guidance. One’s physician or genetic counsellors could assist one in interpreting the intricate network of info one has gathered to ascertain what it would mean to you and the offspring.

What part do Genetic Counsellors play?

Mostly, physicians give referrals to genetic counsellors following diagnosis of a likely risk in the kin background or due to an affirmative blood analysis outcome which means a single or both partners are carriers of a heritable condition.

Genetic counsellor’s main concern is offering the couple accurate data that would assist them in making the most apt decisions.

With myriad advancements in technology many couples have greater alternatives and decisions to arrive at. Following conception, several screening and analysis tests could ascertain whether the foetus carries a risk or would innately have a particular condition. A couple which opts for IVF could choose to get the embryo analysed via a method known as PGD or pre-implantation genetic diagnosis so that embryos without any particular heritable conditions could be used during implantation procedure.

Even in case one’s physician reassures one that one’s family history shows no reason for worry, one could always preserve a duplicate aside for the next generation. Indeed, a wondrous present to offer to your kids – the data they would require for taking care of themselves and their future off-spring.

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