WHAT CAN DNA TELL YOU ABOUT YOUR HEALTH?
Deoxyribonucleic acid, commonly known as DNA, is a ladder-shaped ‘double-helix’ molecule that holds all the information that builds and maintains an organism. As the genetic material, or in simpler terms, a set of instructions, DNA is like a blueprint of you. It is hereditary in that among the 46 chromosomes handed down to you, half is from your mother and the other half comes from your father. Organised into 23 pairs of chromosomes (21 pairs for individuals with Down’s syndrome), it determines your physical traits, such height, hair and eye colours, as well as how your bodies function and even your impulsive tendencies.
SOME OF THEGENETESTSTHATARE AVAILABLE :
a Newborn screening where blood sample is typically collected from the heel (a small prick) of newborn babies for various metabolic disorders (G6PD deficiency, phenylketonuria, congenital hypothyroidism). This will help to identify these disorders and when found, treatments can be planned early so that it will not hinder the child's normal growth development in the future.
b Symptomatic testing of individuals that present specific conditions or abnormalities (global development delays, abnormal facial/anatomical features, strong family history of that disease).
c Carrier testing of individuals or couples that may be carrying one defective copy of genes that cause specific disorders. This is in order to understand the risk of having a child with genetic conditions such as thalassemia, sickle-cell anemia and cystic fibrosis.
d Pre-implantation diagnostics are performed on fertilized embryos to screen for abnormalities before they are implanted in the uterus during in-vitro fertilization (IVF).
e Prenatal testing, as the name suggests, is carried out during pregnancy to ascertain the risk of the baby having any genetic abnormalities, especially for couples that have an increased risk of genetic disorders.
f Pharmacogenetic testing where an individual’s response to a drug is predicted before the drug is administered to determine the effective and safe dose, and how to administer dosage increments.
g Presymptomatic and predictive testing to detect the presence of genetic mutations that are not necessarily causative but associated with disorders that manifest later in life (i.e. at the time of the test the individual does not display any symptoms of the disease). For instance, cancer, heart diseases, Alzheimer’s disease, and Huntington’s disease.
GENETIC TESTS: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
• IT CAN BE USED TO DIAGNOSE A MYRIAD OF DISEASES
But not all diseases! Professor Dr Abhi shares that genetic tests can only be used to test for diseases in which a known DNA mutation(s) (changes in an individual’s genes) is known to cause or is positively correlated with the disease, such as haemophilia, cancer and diabetes, or chromosomal disorders such as Down syndrome, Turner syndrome, DiGeorge Syndrome.
• KNOW YOUR FAMILY HEALTH HISTORY BEFOREHAND
Since you share such close genetic similarities (50 per cent similarity with your parents or siblings, 25 per cent similarity with your grandparents and 12.5 percent similarity with your first cousins), their medical history can potentially give you an idea of what yours and your children’s health status will be like! “In order to study this, you will require good records of family medical history, taken from various family members. A family pedigree chart is often plotted to depict the occurrence of specific diseases or conditions. By doing so, clinicians can establish the probability of a child having a particular disorder – such as if an individual is a likely carrier of a disorder or has the risk of getting a particular disease,” Professor Dr Abhi explains. Even without a genetic test, a strong family history of a disease coupled with good medical records can inform if you have an elevated or lower risk for particular diseases; this includes multifactorial diseases (where the genes alone cannot predict the manifestation of a disease) such as diabetes, cancer, etc. Knowing your medical history allows doctors to make faster and more accurate diagnostics and prescribe more effective medications.
• UNDERSTAND THE RISKS AND LIMITATIONS
And prepare yourselves for a potential need to make difficult decisions or live with a worrying outcome for the rest of their lives. “Taking a genetic test requires you to be sufficiently informed in order to consent to the test – which is why it is also essential that you get genetic counselling when or after you receive your test results. It’s so that you receive clarifications regarding the various genetic terms, the significance of your test results and the choices that are at your disposal,” Professor Dr Abhi suggests. If you receive a ‘positive result’, it usually means a disease-causing genetic mutation has been found. It is then imperative that your doctor or genetic counsellor explain what it means to you and your family and how you might use this information. For pre-implantation and prenatal genetic testing, decisions will need to be made, whether to go ahead with the IVF or pregnancy, or not.
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
YOU'VE GOT A FRIEND IN ME
“More than half of my time is spent with animals, but I enjoy it,” enthuses animal rescuer, Aileen Lee. The story of this selfless lady’s dedication and love for the fur kids she has saved will warm your heart.
We discover why pet proofing your home ensures harmony and safety for both the owner and the cat.
THE ONE WHO'S TAKING ACTION
Best known for her extensively waitlisted Nina bag, Gabriela Hearst walks the talk when it comes to sustainable luxury. The New York-based designer shares her inspirations, dreams and resolutions for herself and her eponymous label.
BORN TO ENTERTAIN
YOU MIGHT RECOGNISE HER AS THE GENTLE AND LOVING MOTHER IN LEE CHONG WEI, THE BIOPIC OF THE BADMINTON LEGEND, OR THE VULNERABLE YET RESILIENT TEACHER IN WET SEASON, WHICH HIT THE CINEMAS IN MARCH. SOME OF US MAY HAVE SEEN YEO YANN YANN ON THE BIG SCREEN PLAYING VARIOUS CHARACTERS FOR MORE THAN A DECADE. STILL, SHE NEVER FAILS LEAVE HER AUDIENCE IN AWE OF HER ACTING PROWESS.
THE TRUTH BEHIND FAUX FUR
Is imitation fur still a feasible alternative in this modern, fashion-forward world? Nadhirah Othman uncovers how the fur industry – both real and fake – brings a detrimental impact to the well-being of our planet.
Surprising reasons WHY YOUR KID is under performing in school
You’re understandably frustrated that your child isn’t living up to her potential. But before you blame her attitude, check if these conditions are hindering her academically.
A PAWSITIVE' Life
Like in many parts of the world, pet culture has seen exponential growth in Malaysia. In this issue, Lorraine Chai discusses pet therapy, a method of treatment that is gaining traction, and also some of the pet trends you don’t want to miss out on.
The Healing Power Of Unconditional Love
There’s a saying that goes, “Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” For one woman, these words resonated deeply. An unlikely companion came into her life at her lowest point and changed everything.
Even Pets Need Tummy Care?
For many, keeping a pet is more than just caring for an animal; pets are family members, too. We speak to veterinary surgeon, Dr Wafaa Abdul Washefffrom Pets Corner Sdn Bhd, to find out how your pets can stay healthy with a suitable diet
Beauty The Natural Way
With climate change rapidly threatening the future of Mother Earth, we urgently need to curb further acts of destruction. We speak to Law Hong Mei, founder of The Olive Tree, about building a beauty brand that is sustainable from the core.
Top 10 Foods To Boost Your Sex Life
Which means a balanced and nutrients diet combined with regular moderate exercise and a positive attitude.
Don't Boost Your Immune System, Balance It!
Instead of “boosting” your immune function, which is not always a good thing, focus on fine-tuning your body for optimal immune health.
A sign of God’s protection right when she needed it
WOUNDS AND THE WOMB
JULIE PETERS explores how to heal a relationship with the sacred womb, a place of death, life, and possibilities.
More uses for new mRNA technology
HOW NATUROPATHIC DOCTORS TREAT TOXIN EXPOSURE
IF YOU’RE THINKING ABOUT STARTING A DETOX REGIMEN, IT PAYS TO CONSULT AN EXPERT FIRST.
Does This DOG Know Whether You Have CANCER?
The canine nose is a marvel of nature. Science believes that a computerized model will save millions of lives.
IN SEASON Chickpeas (GARBANZO BEANS)
Chickpeas appear in early recordings in Turkey well over 5000 years ago. India produces the most chickpeas worldwide but they are grown in more than 50 countries. An excellent source of carbohydrates, protein, fiber, B vitamins, and some minerals, they are a nutritious staple of many diets. The name chickpea comes from the Latin word cancer, referring to the plant family of legumes, Fabaceae. It is also known by its popular Spanish-derived name, the garbanzo bean. Kidney beans, black beans, lima beans, and peanuts are other familiar foods found in this legume family.
8 SUPERSMART SUPERFOODS Your Kids Will Love
Having trouble getting your kids to eat healthily? When you package these superfood hits into your kid’s menu you can be sure you are giving them the nutrients they need and show them great nutrition is just around the corner!
THE SHOW MUST GO ON! AS PAT SAJAK REMEMBERS HIS LONGTIME RIVAL ALEX TREBEK, JEOPARDY! ANNOUNCES A SLATE OF NEW GUEST HOSTS.