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She has Your Nose, Will She have Your Breast Cancer?

By Jessica M. Lang, Holistic Health Practitioner

Every expecting couple has the same conversation. “I wonder what he’ll look like…,” “I hope she gets my freckles…”, or “She better not have great-aunt Suzy’s uni-brow.” When I was pregnant with my oldest son I spent hours examining and scrutinizing ultrasound pictures to get a possible glimpse at our baby’s features, who’s physical genetics would he favor? 

The baby is born and everyone has their own opinion about who he/she takes after. “Oh, look, he has the dimple in his chin, he gets that from OUR family!” Relatives young and old feel proud to share a feature with a new baby…even if its in their imagination.

But we all know there is more passed onto new generations than noses and hair color. As your children grow and develop this becomes more and more apparent. My son, Nathan has tonsil stones like me, which causes him to have lingering coughs and more frequent colds.  He also got my artistic ability, we can see it already!  He has a real knack for puzzles, like his dad, not to mention his gung-ho attitude.  My son, Brady has a lot of acid reflux which comes from my side of the family, as well as being tongue-tied at birth, but he sleeps wonderfully, like my husbands side.

We are lucky not to have too many red flags in our close genetic background. However, some families have more serious illnesses and disorders in their chains of DNA. Will you or your child have Huntington’s Disease, Alzheimer’s, breast cancer, diabetes, prostate cancer, cystic fibrosis or a host of other health conditions? Is this important information to know at the very beginning of a child’s life? 

An article in this month’s Parents Magazine, March 2011 issue, states that more than half of parents are interested in having their kids’ risk of disease checked through at-home Do-it-Yourself genetic-testing kits, according to a recent poll from C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan. You can purchase these tests online or even at Walgreen’s. A swab of saliva is collected from the intended person and is sent off to a lab for “results”. These DIY genetic testing kits can cost anywhere from $100-$1000 including the lab-work and are NOT regulated by the FDA, nor do they need approval currently.

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So you’ve gotten your kit, you’ve swabbed, you’ve mailed in your vial to the lab…now you await the results that let you know whether your child has the gene that could eventually lead to a dreaded illness. The problem is that some people who have that gene do NOT get ever come down with this dreaded illness. New York Daily News reports:

The value of such kits is being questioned by some scientists. For the majority of diseases, no one really knows why some people fall victim and others don’t, according to Peter Kraft, deputy director of the Program in Molecular and Genetic Epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health.

Personally, I don’t want to knowhow I will die when I’m 99.9 years old and will not purchase one of these DIY genetic-testing-kits. I want to live in the moment, as much as possible, when it comes to my children and I don’t want to place a little black rain cloud over any of our heads. However, I do respect families that have the need to look into their DNA, they may be carriers of a disorder that is treatable with early intervention and lifestyle changes.The whole thing is very thought provoking to me.

I’m so proud that my son, Nathan, has my eyes…I love that my son, Brady, has my husband’s beautiful eyes…but we are who we are, inside and out and I wouldn’t want to analyze such a complex system, like DNA.


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