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.