ONE MORE ITEM FOR YOUR CHECKLIST
June is the traditional wedding season, which finds couples consulting their checklist of tasks to be completed as their impending marriage nears.
There are the standard “to-dos” on the checklist – such as confirming the caterer, the band and the florist. However, there is another especially crucial item that must not be overlooked.
According to the Atlanta Jewish Gene Screen organization, before breaking the glass, a couple with at least one Jewish partner must also consider scheduling a blood test, since one in four Jews with ancestors from Eastern and Central Europe (countries such as Poland, Russia, Germany, Austria and Lithuania) are at a greater risk for being a carrier of at least one of 19 identified Jewish genetic diseases.
Getting tested at wedding time is crucial because while the date of the wedding is a known factor, the date of a potential conception is often not planned or known in advance. Timely screening enables the couple, even if they are both carriers, to consult with a genetic counselor about their options for having biological children free of Jewish genetic diseases.
Before the advent of these screenings, prospective parents had no way of knowing whether they were carriers of a genetic disease that could threaten the health and life of their children. As a carrier’s own health can be unaffected by the gene in question, that a potential child is at risk may not be known until too late, and many Jewish genetic diseases strike in childhood, have no cure and may lead to early death.
A simple blood test is all that is necessary for screening for the entire Jewish genetic disease panel of 19 diseases, and individuals – including interfaith couples – should be screened prior to each pregnancy, since with advances in testing, the list is constantly being expanded.
While the high cost of screening has presented a financial barrier to screening for some, a new relationship between the AJGS and AMDx Laboratory Sciences, enables all insured individuals to be screened for all 19 diseases at a maximum of $25. Those interested but without health insurance (or using an healthcare alternative system) should contact the Victor Center for further information.
AJGS is a project founded by Caroline and Randy and Gold, funded by The Marcus Foundation and managed by the Victor Center for Prevention of Jewish Genetic Diseases at Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia.
Editor’s note: To learn more about proper screening for Jewish Genetic Diseases, visit atlantajewishgenescreen.org or victorcenters.org or call (877) 401-1093. To ask genetic experts about genetic diseases and how they can be prevented, visit jewishgeneticanswers.org.
From the Atlanta Jewish Gene Screen
For The Atlanta Jewish Times