If you’re thinking about starting or enlarging your family, genetic carrier screening is an important first step before you try to conceive. At a time when the medical world seems preoccupied with COVID-19 and many providers are rescheduling appointments, you can do genetic testing right at home, thanks to JScreen, a national nonprofit genetic education and screening program that’s based right here in Atlanta.
JScreen tests couples for a comprehensive panel of 200+ diseases. They provide at-home kits for genetic carrier testing, followed up by remote genetic counseling. Simply order a test kit online, provide your saliva sample at home, mail it back in a pre-paid envelope, and get your results back in about 3-4 weeks. Costs are reasonable and you can also “gift” the test to your loved ones.
Karen Arnovitz Grinzaid, JScreen’s Executive Director, underscores the importance of testing before you conceive to help ensure that future children are not at risk. “About 80% of people coming through our testing program will test positive for something,” she says. “But only about 3% of couples who test will find that they are both carriers for the same disease, putting their future children at risk. If a genetic risk is identified. JScreen genetic counselors can provide couples with options to help them have healthy babies.”
JScreen is also doing testing for BRCA gene mutations through the PEACH BRCA Study. While anyone can have a BRCA mutation, Ashkenazi Jews, (from Eastern and Central Europe, Germany, Poland, and Russia) are at 10 times greater risk, even if they don’t have a personal or close family history of cancer. Having a BRCA mutation puts a person at risk for certain cancers, including breast, ovarian, pancreatic, and prostate. Anyone with a mutation also has a 50% chance of passing it down to each of his/her children, regardless of their gender. Knowing your risk can be life-saving. For more information about the study, go to https://jscreen.org/brca/
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