We were pleased to hear the Sarnoff Center’s friend Bonnie
Rochman featured on The Longest Shortest Time, a popular parenting podcast. In
a recent episode about “Genetic Future-Telling,” Bonnie and podcast host and
creator Hillary Frank explore genetic testing, family planning, and parenthood.
Their conversation about carrier screening and genetic health is particularly
relevant to our community, which faces an increased risk of certain recessive
disorders and BRCA mutations. While we applaud the show for bringing attention
to these important topics, we want to provide listeners with additional
information and clarification on a few points:
- Today, carrier screening
can be done with a saliva sample using Next Generation Sequencing to
provide the most accurate detection rates. Many people who receive carrier
screening complete it from the comfort and convenience of their own home
by mailing a saliva sample to a laboratory as part of a screening program.
This eliminates the need for a blood draw in many cases.
- Who should be screened and
when? Ideally, individuals should receive carrier screening prior to
pregnancy. Couples who know their carrier status beforehand have the most
options when planning for a family. Even those who choose not to alter
their family planning approach may benefit from knowledge that can help
them prepare if a future child needs early intervention. While the podcast
mainly focuses on carrier screening for women, men should also consider
screening as part of family planning.
- Hillary and Bonnie touch
on the fact that BRCA mutations significantly increase the risk of breast
cancer in both men and women. Another key part of the message: BRCA
mutations also significantly increase the risk of other cancers, most
notably ovarian cancer in women and pancreatic cancer in men and women.
BRCA mutations are 10 times more common among Jewish and interfaith
families than the general population.
You can listen to the August 9 episode here.
Already listened? We’d love to hear your thoughts on the conversation.
If you have questions about genetic health, please contact
the Norton & Elaine Sarnoff Center for Jewish Genetics to learn more about
available resources or speak with our genetic counselor.