You might feel like you are constantly hearing about new advances in the medical field, but Gene Mapping might be one of the greatest (and possibly the creepiest) advance when it comes to predicting diseases. There are not many tests out there right now that can predict if your child will develop a disease before adulthood, but Gene Mapping could be the answer!
Gene Mapping: Should You Consider It?
What is Gene Mapping?
Basically, it’s the idea of being able to predict diseases that will occur in childhood. If you already have children you might remember the heel prick that was done after they were a day or so old. They were testing for up to 30 preventable diseases, things like sickle-cell anemia and hypothyroidism. You might be asking then, ‘How is Gene Mapping different?’ With Gene Mapping, the doctors will be able to test about 1,700 protein coding genes that have been strongly linked to childhood diseases. For more information on gene mapping, we suggest checking out the National Genome Human Research Institute.
What could they find?
Deafness or gradual vision loss are among the diseases that could be predicted by Gene Mapping. Other things that they could find are diseases that might not show up until late childhood or adulthood, but the genes are there and ready to be mutated as the years go by. For example, they could detect the gene where polyps form and grow in the colon and eventually turn cancerous.
While it may seem creepy to some, there could be some benefits to knowing what, if any, diseases your child might face. If you knew that your child would eventually be diagnosed with Rett’s, where they would have a loss of muscle tone and issues with coordination, you would be able to prepare. Your child’s pediatrician would be monitoring your child for early signs and symptoms to help the child live the best possible life. Although some diseases are not preventable, simply knowing what is coming, you will be able to prepare you and your child. You would be able to involve the school as well and be sure your child is receiving the help he needs prior to difficulties that may arise in school.
What are the downsides?
While the upside to knowing what’s coming is that you can prepare, there are downsides. In fact, knowing what’s coming so you can prepare IS a downside, because “what’s coming” may never come. For example, just because your baby has a gene that indicates a higher risk for cancer doesn’t mean that your child will definitely get cancer. Even if it does happen, it may not occur until significantly later in life.
Knowing that there is a threat can make you a little crazy. It’s kind of if someone told you “a car is going to kill you” but didn’t give you any more details. I know I would be terrified to get in a car or even be near one! That’s not really a great way to live or raise your child. So you really have to know your own personality and whether you can handle the knowledge without letting it overtake your lives.
Would you do it?
There are tests available to pregnant women now that can predict whether or your unborn child has the extra chromosome that indicates Down Syndrome. It is an optional test, and I opted not to with both of my children. To me, it didn’t matter if I knew my child would be born with Down Syndrome or not, so I opted to not have the test done. My friend was different, she chose to have the test. She explained to me that in her opinion it would mean her child would have a more difficult life and she wanted to know that. If Gene Mapping were a routine option as far as routine testing goes, would you do it?
Believe it or not, April of this year doctors in Boston started a study to see if Gene Mapping is beneficial. They are testing 240 babies at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and 240 babies at Boston Children’s Hospital who are in intensive care. Would you agree to participate?
Do you feel this is great insight into your child’s future or is it just too creepy knowing what is coming ahead? Share your thoughts on this new topic with us below!