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5 Questions Prospective Fathers Are Asking About Genetic Screening

When it comes to genetic screening, it’s usually the prospective mothers who take the initiative on it. But what about the dads? Doesn’t it take two people to have a baby? Just in time for Father’s Day, we’ve asked genetic counselor Daniella Kamara to address some of the most common questions men have about screening for genetic diseases.

1. My wife has already had genetic screening. Why do men need to be screened as well?

Even if your wife had carrier screening and her results are normal, it can be important for you (the male partner) to still be screened, although the chance of having a child with a genetic condition is very low. The reason it is important is because carrier screening can provide information for you personally as well as for your family members and future children. For example, if you find out you are a carrier for a certain genetic condition there is a 50% chance that your children will also be carriers (they will not have the disease but be carriers like you). This will be important information for them to have when they start to have children in the future. Additionally, you can inform your siblings or cousins because there is also a chance that they are carriers for the same condition and this is essential information for them to know.

2. Aren’t many genetic conditions passed down from the woman’s line?

Some genetic conditions are sex-linked, meaning the way they are inherited depends on which parent is a carrier. However most genetic conditions are not sex-linked and can be passed down from mother or father. The most common sex-linked condition is Fragile X syndrome, which can be passed from mother to son. Typically in Fragile X syndrome the mothers are unaffected and then they have a son born with Fragile X. Carrier screening will test for sex-linked conditions as well as non-sex-linked conditions.

3. We’re an interfaith couple. Doesn’t that mean we’re not at risk for genetic conditions?

Unfortunately, no couple is at 0% risk for genetic conditions. Couples of different ethinic backgrounds have a lower risk of being carriers for the same genetic conditions, however it is still possible. For that reason, it is essential that all couples, even those of different ethnicities, undergo carrier screening prior to conceiving.

4. I got screened for genetic diseases several years ago before we had our first child. Do I really need to be screened again?

Technology and science have come a long way in the last decade. The type of testing that is done now is very different from what was done even 6 years ago! For those that were tested many years ago, there are more comprehensive tests available that provide much more detailed and accurate information for individuals and couples. So, yes! It’s time to think about getting an updated test.

5. I did the 23andMe test. Isn’t that all the genetic screening I need?

No! 23andMe and other Direct To Consumer genetic testing options are not medical grade tests and do not provide the same information carrier screening done through a healthcare professional would provide. Although it may provide some information about conditions you are a carrier for, it does not provide the same level of analysis or accuracy as a medical grade test. Speak to a healthcare professional about carrier screening.

An exclusive offer from Gene Test Now for Jewish Journal readers. Save $36 on an in-home genetic screening kit from JScreen. Click here to learn more about getting screened. JScreen tests for more than 200 genetic conditions, including those that are more common in individuals of Jewish ancestry, as well as diseases that are common across ethnic groups.

GeneTestNow.com is a nonprofit initiative of the Doris Factor Endowment Fund of the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles.

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