Secret Southern Couture: Resources Available for Those Considering Genetic Testing   

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Resources Available for Those Considering Genetic Testing

Concerned you may be predisposed to a certain health condition? Trying to determine a child’s biological parents? Whatever your reason is, genetic testing can provide you a solution. There are a wide variety of tests available, though many people do not fully understand what they are or how they work. More importantly, some people do not realize how powerful these tests can be in making life-changing decisions. Before submitting to a test, an individual may want to do a little research. From talking to your doctor to surfing the web, there are many resources available.

Reasons People Get Tested

To get a better grasp on genetic testing as a whole, it is important to understand why genetic testing occurs. There are many reasons someone may want their DNA to be studied, including – source:

·         Paternity testing
·         Searching for a predisposition to a certain illness
·         Determining if you are a carrier of a genetic disease
·         Testing to help figure out what kinds of medications will best treat a genetic disease

Tests look for variations in your genes that can indicate an illness or determine if you are the parent of a child. The results of these tests can be extremely important. Someone who discovers they are at risk of developing an illness may consider preventative treatment. Others who determine they carry a certain genetic disease may change their minds regarding family planning. Once you have figured out why you want to be tested, it is important to do your homework, relying on the following resources for help.

1.       Genetic Testing Registry

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) developed the Genetic Testing Registry (GTR) in order to help health care providers, researchers and the everyday consumer have access to information regarding testing. The registry:

·         Can help you find a local genetic testing company
·         Shares data regarding scientific data surrounding the tests
·         Helps to hold providers accountable through making certain scientific information available

In general, the GTR largely caters to health care providers, and it can help your doctor get the information he or she needs to help recommend a certain test to you as well as interpret the results.

2.       Your Family’s Medical History

If you are considering genetic testing because of a health issue, your family’s medical history will be one of your biggest assets. This can help you determine which diseases you may be predisposed to. To collect information, talk to your parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles about any genetic diseases that might run in your family. These would include immune issues like Lupus or Celiac disease; cardiovascular issues such as heart disease; issues associated with aging like Alzheimer’s; or other health issues like diabetes.

3.       Your Physician

Once you think you may want to go ahead with genetic testing, it is important to discuss your options with your doctor. He or she can let you know which tests will be most useful to you. Perhaps more importantly, your doctor can help prepare you for what the results may be and what you will do once you get them.

Keep in mind that while genetic testing is a great indicator, in some cases it is not an absolute. In other words, if a test comes back positive, it does not mean you will definitely develop a disease. A positive test does, however, give you options, which is why it is imperative to keep your doctor in the loop. He or she may be able to suggest certain preventative measures you can take.

4.       Your Attorney

Many people choose to do genetic testing to resolve paternity issues. If that is the case, your attorney will be a valuable resource. If you purchase a legally binding test, you can actually use the results in court. This can be extremely helpful if you are disputing things such as custody or child support.

5.       Books

Lastly, there are a number of books that have been published on the topic of genetic testing. You might find it helpful to read books about how to interpret your results or about how personalized medicine has boomed since the advent of genetic testing.

As with any medical procedure, it is important that you do your research so you are fully prepared for your genetic test. Consider all of the resources you have available to help you collect information. If you are getting tested for health reasons, be sure to consult with your physician and put together a comprehensive history of illness in your family. If you are determining paternity, make sure you consult with your attorney so the test may be used in court. So long as you are prepared, you will be able to adequately deal with the outcome of your test.