We are all born with a set of genes given to us by our parents. Genes are found in our DNA and each gene is responsible for a particular function within the body. Each person has a unique genetic code.
Our genes give instructions and information to our bodies. When we talk about genetic health we are referring to the genetic expression of illness and disease. Our genetic health is partly hereditary and partly environmental. If there is a family history of certain genetic disorders, then undergoing the genetic DNA health test may help determine whether you carry the genes. Furthermore, if you suspect that you may have a disease or condition, genetic testing may be used to confirm whether the disorder exists. An in-depth examination of a person’s DNA is required in order to assess your genetic health.
Testing your genetic health
Genetic health testing may provide information about illness and disease, treatment and prevention. This way you are able to follow health guidelines on the correct foods to eat, exercise plans and lifestyle regimes required in order to take control over your life.
Apart from genetics, there are other independent factors that may contribute towards contracting a certain disease which include: fitness levels, age, gender, pre-existing medical conditions and environment.
DNA genetic health tests give an estimation of your susceptibility towards contracting disease. This is not to say however, that a person will develop the disease marked on the genetic DNA test, or that if tested negative you will not develop the disease or condition. Negative results do not necessarily mean that you are not at risk of developing the disease or diseases you tested for.
In cases where results are inconclusive, then follow up testing is recommended.
What is involved in genetic health testing?
There are different techniques that may be used in order to determine genetic health diseases, which are:
Buccal swabs: a sample of buccal cells from the inside of your cheeks is taken using an oral for gathering cells.
Blood samples: Drawing blood, using a needle to prick the finger tip.
Prenatal testing using procedures such as chorionic villus sampling and amniocentesis
DNA tests of certain samples collected during pregnancy can reveal a lot about the genetic health of the baby. Samples can be collected at different stages of pregnancy using certain procedures such as CVS, amniocentesis and percutaneous umbilical cord sampling. There is also the option of non invasive prenatal DNA testing although this does not allow as many chromosomal abnormalities to be diagnosed as other methods can such as chorionic villus sampling and percutaneous umbilical cord sampling.
Some conditions which can be diagnosed include
- Sickle cell disease
- Cystic fibrosis
- Muscular dystrophy
- Tay-Sachs and similar diseases
In some cases, an increased risk or prevalence amongst certain ethnic groups would mean that pregnant women in those groups may be advised to take a prenatal DNA testing. One example is European Caucasians and Eastern European Jews who are more like to suffer from cystic fibrosis. Such tests are also more likely to be recommended for those women who fall pregnant at age 35 or over. This is because women in this age group are more likely to conceive a child with a chromosomal abnormality.