As we start the Jewish New Year with good wishes for family and friends, I want to share important information from a pamphlet distributed at my synagogue — “What Jewish and Interfaith Couples Need to Know About Jewish Genetic Diseases.”
As the information says: “All couples with ANY Jewish ancestry, including interfaith couples, should have pre-conception carrier screening for all Jewish genetic diseases.”
While this information provided by the Jewish Genetic Disease Consortium is relevant for all people with Jewish ancestry, it is particularly imperative to share with Jewish military personnel who may be serving on active duty in places with a very small Jewish population and who may not know about this important topic:
Talk to Your Doctor About Jewish Genetic Disease Screening
If you or your partner have any Jewish ancestry, or are an interfaith couple, it is important that you ask to have pre-conception carrier screening for the Jewish genetic diseases.
If you are already pregnant, it is important to discuss screening with your doctor as soon as possible.
Tell you doctor about:
Your plans to become pregnant
All family heritage, whether Ashkenazi (German, French or Eastern European), Sephardic (Mediterranean) or Mizrahi (Persian/Iranian or Middle Eastern).
Any family history of genetic diseases.
If you have been screened before, and your test results are available, bring them to your appointment.
If you do not have a doctor, or if your doctor does not offer genetic screening and counseling, you can contact a hospital based medical genetics program or an online genetics program that offers education, counseling and screening. Screening resources are listed at JewishGeneticDiseases.org. You can also search for a genetic counselor in your area at nsgc.org.
Whether you are currently single, dating, engaged or married, you may be thinking about having children or adding to your family.
If you or your partner have any Jewish heritage, you need to consider genetic screening.
If both of you are carriers of the same disease, it is best to have this information before pregnancy. A genetic counselor can discuss your options for building a healthy family.
And please share this information.