Genetic testing has come a long way since the 1960's. First we had ultrasounds, next the almighty Amniocentesis, and later Chronic Villus Sampling (CVS). The later two tests carry risks to the fetus that many expecting mothers are wary of, or some simply unwilling to take however small. Well, science has again advanced to a point where we can now test a sample of the mother's blood with no invasive testing. The mother's blood sample contains fetal cells, at a very low level, but with analysis of the plasma of the mother's blood, the cell-free DNA of the fetus can be explored. This is great news for mother's with genetic disorders, those who suspect problems, or older mothers.
Right now you might be thinking, why is she even talking about child bearing, this is a blog about Alzheimer's and Dementia? Well, what if you could pin point whether or not your baby, in utero, was going to have your intelligence, or your mother's farsightedness? What if you knew that it was a girl or boy at just 6 weeks, or they would have their father's athletic ability? What if you knew that they would have Down Syndrome, or later on would develop Parkinson's or Alzheimer's Disease? Would you decide to keep or abort the baby based upon some or all of this information? How would this information change the way you conceive, carry, nurture and become attached to your baby? For many, the choice to have the test would be overlooked, or ignored, if you will. Others would flock to doctor's offices far and wide to get all the information they could to include in their unborn baby's list of accomplishments. Yet another group of us would look at the major illnesses, and think twice about whether or not we would want to raise a child who would ultimately be struck with a terrible illness. These are hard decisions, with or without the additional information we get from genetic testing. I can say that working with a large group of highly advanced Alzheimer's Disease affected residents changes your thinking about how you, personally, want to live, age and die. People living with Alzheimer's and Dementia may have chosen a different path for their children, or not chosen to have children at all if they were aware of their gene pool. How do you think this new technology will impact those of us starting families, and how will our culture change if we take these decisions into our own hands?
I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic, comment below.
Welcome to Cre8ive Senior Solutions! I'm Amanda Andrade and I'm a gerontologist, a teacher, and an innovator around all things "wellness." I absolutely love creating new and unique solutions geared toward happiness and engagement for those affected by Alzheimer's or related dementias. Working to solve the individualized and complex problems seniors, and their families face is what inspires me and renews my hope for the future. I hope you join me on this journey, and share your family stories along the way!