Genetic Testing Before Having a Child
Genetic testing is becoming more and more common around the world, as parents become more aware of the disorders that may occur and their ability to find out if their child is predisposed to them.
Genetic testing is done through a blood test which is given to expecting or hopeful parents in order to look for any abnormal genes that may lead to diseases in the baby. Most of these genetic diseases are known as recessive disorders, which means that both parents would have to carry the recessive gene in order for the baby to be impacted. It should be noted that if both of the parents do test positive for a genetic abnormality, there is still only a 25 per cent chance of the baby having the disease.
When is it Performed?
Genetic testing should be done before two people try to become pregnant. This is ideal so that the parents can understand the possible risks beforehand. However, we all know this is not always the case. Once a pregnancy occurs, parents can have the test conducted early on in the pregnancy to find out possible risks with their baby. This allows the parent’s time to prepare for and be aware of potential genetic disorders with their child. Parents may also want to have a prenatal test done on the baby, due to this information.
Who Should Get Tested?
Genetic testing can be beneficial for all expecting parents, but some pregnancies are at a higher risk than others. It turns out that ethnicity greatly impacts the risk factor for different genetic diseases. For example, European Caucasians and Eastern European Jews have an increased risk of cystic fibrosis. African Americans and people from the Mediterranean have an increased risk of sickle cell anemia and French Canadians have a higher rate of Tay-Sachs. With these facts, parents who share the same ethnicity, are at a greater risk for their corresponding diseases.
A mother is typically tested by her OB-GYN first because she is at the office more often. Through the process of elimination, if she is not a carrier of the genetic disease, her partner will not need to be tested. Through this testing, parents can be most prepared for the arrival of their new baby.