Couples urged to get genetic testing

September 5, 2008 9:19:45 AM PDT
Couples with Jewish, or even partial Jewish heritage should consider the test

When Lauren Wolkoff and Josh Nanberg were planning their wedding, the "to-do" list seemed long enough.

Then the cantor who was to officiate at the ceremony added another task - genetic screening for diseases that could affect their children.

Nanberg recalls, "She was pretty adamant that this was something she needed us to do, because it's important when you're planning a family, to know these things ahead of time."

They knew that as descendants of Ashkenazi, or Eastern European Jews, Tay-Sachs disease was a risk.

But what they didn't know, as Lauren says, "When we went to get the testing, I learned about 9 others I'd never heard of before, and never realized what the risk and consequences of them were."

The couple was able to get the testing free through the Victor Center for Jewish Genetic Diseases, at Einstein Medical Center.

Dr. Adele Schneider, the center's director, says even couples with partial Jewish ancestry should consider testing.

Dr. Schneider told Action News, "The bottom line is 1 in 5 people of Ashkenazi Jewish descent is a carrier for one of these conditions."

Lauren & Josh were relieved to find out they aren't carriers.

"We know we have a clean start and can move forward, and it's a good feeling," Lauren says.

For more information, call 1-800-EINSTEIN.


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