Genetic mutations associated with certain genetic disorders can present themselves more frequently in certain ethnic groups.
For this reason, it’s becoming more common to undergo ethnic-based genetic carrier screening before or during pregnancy. In addition to ethnic-based genetic carrier screening, individuals and couples can also consider comprehensive carrier screening that tests for a wide range of genetic disorders.
This article explores 5 common misconceptions about ethnic-based genetic carrier screening.
I Can’t Be a Carrier of a Genetic Condition Associated With Another Ethnicity
Certain ethnicities do have an increased risk of inheriting or passing on genes associated with specific genetic disorders. However, they are not the only group at risk for these conditions. All individuals have the risk of being a carrier for numerous genetic conditions. If you choose to undergo ethnic-based genetic carrier screening and you test negative as a carrier, you might still be a carrier for a genetic condition that is not included in the ethnic-specific screening panel.
I Have No Family History of Genetic Disease, So There’s No Risk to My Children
Some genetic conditions are referred to as recessive. This means that, in order to develop the condition, an individual must inherit two copies of a disease-causing gene. If one copy of an abnormal gene is inherited, it may not cause any signs or symptoms, but it can be passed on to children. For this reason, many families may not see a trend of a genetic disorder for many generations and a diagnoses of inherited genetic conditions may be unexpected. One way to better understand if you or your partner carry a gene that contributes to a genetic disorder is to undergo genetic carrier screening.
If I Have Already Given Birth to a Healthy Child, Then There is No Risk for My Next Pregnancy
Scientists are constantly discovering new genes associated with genetic disorders, and these genes are being added to disease panels as genetic screening test updates are made. If you have already been tested, but are planning on having another child, consider getting tested routinely while growing your family.
If Both My Partner and I Test Positive as Genetic Carriers, We Can’t Have a Child
If both you and your partner test positive as a genetic carrier for the same condition and you prefer not to conceive, preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) is an option. In assisted reproductive technologies, like in vitro fertilization (IVF) and zygote intrafallopian transfer (ZIFT), preimplantation genetic diagnosis is the process of testing an embryo for genetic abnormalities before implantation.
Genetic Carrier Screening is Painful
Genetic carrier screening requires nothing more than a mouth swab or, at most, a blood sample. This can take a matter of minutes and is virtually painless. The sample is then sent to the lab and your doctor will receive the results.
Have Questions About Ethnic-Based Genetic Carrier Screening?
If you have questions regarding ethnic-based genetic carrier screening and comprehensive genetic carrier screening, make an appointment to speak with a genetic counselor. These medical professionals work side-by-side with individuals who are interested in learning more about genetic carrier screening.