Hereditary Disease & Genetic Testing: How To Mitigate Your Risk”
You cannot change your genes. Your DNA and genetic makeup is unique to you, but those factors come from your parents, whose genetic makeup came from their parents, so on and so forth. Genetics determine your eye color, hair color, how tall you’ll be and many other traits, but they also play a factor in diseases that you may be predisposed to. Being genetically predisposed to diseases only slightly increases your chances of developing certain diseases, but many variations and mutations in genes can increase your chances of developing a disease.
How Genetic Testing Helps Control Your Health Risks
Genetic testing gives you an insight into your health, from genetic traits you may pass on to children, or diseases that you and your siblings may need to take note of. Genetic testing for fitness can allow you to take a deeper look into how your genetics play a role in your fitness routine. Fitness is only a small part of a lifestyle, imagine the possibilities when you are using genetic testing for overall health. If you are adopted and don’t know your family history, genetic testing allows for you to know that you are predisposed to high cholesterol. Testing can also inform you that you have genetic mutations that predispose you to cancer. Being informed is the first step to take action in your health.
Although genetic testing for your health may come back with results that show you are predisposed to certain diseases, that does not mean that a disease will develop. Having the information can give you the opportunity to mitigate possible diseases that are preventable. If you are unsure if you should partake in genetic testing for hereditary diseases, always consult your primary physician. They can help guide you in the type of testing, and go over a course of action once you get your results.
Testing Available for Hereditary Diseases
Just as with many medical tests, there are a multitude of ways and times to test to get the same results. Again, consult your physician to determine which test is right for you. The main forms of testing are:
- Predictive or Presymptomatic Testing – this is possibly the most popular of genetic testing, this test helps to identify possible genetic mutations that can cause issues later in life in someone who currently shows no symptoms. The result from predictive testing can assist someone in making decisions actively, and informed, about their possible health risks. You don’t have to wait to develop an illness before you act.
- Newborn Screening – this is done right after birth to catch possible genetic mutations and diseases, such as phenylketonuria, which can cause intellectual disability if it is left untreated, and congenital hypothyroidism. All states automatically test for these diseases, but you can request that other tests are done as well to ensure that you have the full scope of your baby’s possible risks.
- Diagnostic Testing – this testing can be done at any point in a person’s life – it’s never too late or early to take a deeper look into your health. This testing can also be done to confirm, or dismiss possible diseases once symptoms have presented in a person. Diagnostic testing allows for guided steps to be taken in health care if a disease is present, or to avoid certain treatments for a condition that isn’t present.
- Carrier Testing – This form of testing is to determine if two people are carriers of certain genetic mutations that if there are two of those genes, a hereditary disease will be present. This is especially important for carriers of diseases like sickle cell disease, where if one person is a carrier, they can live a normal life with minimal to no effect on their health. If two of the genes are present and those two people reproduce, sickle cell disease will be present in their child.
- Prenatal Testing – While this form of testing can help detect possible genetic or chromosome changes before birth, it cannot detect all possible changes. If both, or one, parents have a genetic history of chromosome or genetic defects, it can help them make more informed decisions about the pregnancy, and any precautions to take.
- Preimplantation Testing – Preimplantation testing is especially vital for those who must use in-vitro fertilization. This testing helps to ensure that there are no genetic or chromosome changes that could be detrimental to the embryo before it is implanted. Preimplantation testing helps to prevent any further complications with a pregnancy.
With the plethora of genetic tests for hereditary diseases available for every stage of life, you can choose the test that works right for you. Each test offers a differing look into specific genetic factors that can affect your health. Knowing possible health risks enables you to make health-conscious decisions while choosing what steps can be taken to help mitigate possible risks. While being predisposed, or not, you may still develop a certain disease. Genetic testing can be the first line of defense in making better health choices.