BENGALURU : Bengaluru couples are now choosing premarital carrier screenings over the old-time Kunadali matching, to cut the chances of having kids with genetic disorders. Dr Sheetal Sharda, clinical geneticist at MedGenome Labs, said they have been seeing considerable number of couples opt for a pre-marital carrier screening test.
Genetic carrier screening is a test to determine if an individual is a carrier for certain genetic diseases. Every day, nearly 80 infants in the country are born with some form of disability and pre-marital genetic testing is the key to reducing the number of birth defects, say counsellors. “Several men and women in India have been getting married late and there are also consanguineous marriages. This carrier screening test for genetic disorders will help them identify anyone with a family history of a genetic condition that could affect a couple’s married life later,” said Dr Sheetal.
Counselling should begin early, say doctors
Pre-marital counselling and awareness about carrier screenings should begin in adolescence years, say doctors. “Colleges should to talk to their students about genetic abnormalities and how screenings and counselling in regard to this can help prevent passing the diseases to the next generations,” said Dr Sheetal.
Sandhya and Rajesh Naik who got engaged recently have decided to go for the carrier screening test to ensure that they do not have to face any complications later. Rajesh, a marketing consultant, said, “I am already 38 years old and my fiance is 32. I noticed that my future father-in-law’s sister has a genetic disorder. My parents are concerned about this. We decided to go for the screening to take steps to prevent such issues.”
Dr Rashmi Yogesh, gynaecologist and obstetrician, Khushi Fertility and Women’s Clinic, said creating awareness on this subject should be the first step by every medical and paramedical staff concerned. “People need to be educated on this subject. It is not just pre-marital, but preconception screening and counselling are also important to prevent birth related disorders,” said Dr Yogesh.
According to marriage counsellors, there are couples who go in for HIV tests before tying the knot. “They also get a health check up done. These days, families, especially in arranged marriages, think very practically,” said Dr Ashwini S, a city-based marriage counsellor, adding, “Normally, about 60 per cent of couples end their engagement if the results indicate genetic disorders. Different families react in different ways, but couples should be take an informed choice and such tests will help.”
What is Carrier Screening Test?
It provides vital information of “Carrier” status to couples and the risks of passing down any recessive diseases (condition where a person has two copies of an abnormal gene) to their child. It provides couples an opportunity for reproductive choices, including pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, prenatal diagnosis and help prepare for the newborn. It also provides timely diagnosis of genetic disorders and allows specific interventions that can substantially improve the quality of life.
How is this test done?
Through a blood or saliva sample, a lab can check for genetic mutations associated with diseases and conditions at any private lab like MedGenome.
What can be screened?
Thalassemia, sickle-cell anaemia and HIV can also be screened.