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Center for Jewish Genetics blog

Be a Gen(e)ius About Your Genetic Health

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3D Genome

By Amy Weinstein

There are many ways to be proactive about your health, including your genetic health. Healthy eating habits and regular exercise may improve your general health and wellbeing. When it comes to genetic health, carrier screening and learning your family health history can help you assess your risk and provide information to help you make informed decisions. Keeping track of your health is important for everyone, including members of the Jewish community, who have increased risk for certain genetic disorders and hereditary cancers.

One way to be proactive about your health is to eat responsibly. Experts recommend eating a fiber filled breakfast, and adding fresh fruits and vegetables to your meals. Regular exercise also provides health benefits. Personal trainers state that it’s important to make exercising a habit especially for beginners1. Try to set new goals for yourself and create more challenging workouts.

If you’re planning for a family, carrier screening is another important way to be proactive about your health. According to the CDC, 80% of babies with genetic diseases are born to parents with no known history of that disease2. That’s because people can carry genetic mutations and not know it. Carriers usually do not develop the disorder, but are at risk of passing the disorder down to a child. If both parents carry the same genetic mutation, with each pregnancy, their child will have a 50% chance of being a carrier, a 25% chance of being affected, and 25% chance of neither being affected nor being a carrier. Whether the results are positive or negative, genetic screening and genetic counseling can provide couples with information they need to make informed decisions. Carrier couples have many options for creating a healthy family. Even patients who choose not to alter their family approach may benefit from knowledge that can help them prepare if a future child needs early intervention.

While carrier screening can help you be proactive about the health of your future family, learning your family health history provides insight into your own risk of disease. Collecting medical information about your parents, grandparents and siblings is one way to identify patterns and potential risk factors. You can share that information with your medical provider, who will provide guidance on any next steps to reduce risk.

The Norton & Elaine Sarnoff Center for Jewish Genetics offers resources to help you start that conversation. Our genetic counselor is also available to answer questions, provide information and help direct you to appropriate resources.  


1. http://www.fitnessmagazine.com/workout/tips/the-new-get-fit-rules-exercise-dos-and-donts/

2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK11795/

Image from https://www.flickr.com/photos/genomegov/


Affordable, Accessible Genetic Screening in Illinois

Our affordable, accessible carrier screening program uses advanced technology to provide comprehensive screening for Jewish and interfaith couples. Visit our Get Screened page to learn more and register.


Planning for a Family?

1 in 4 Jews carries a potentially devastating genetic disorder that could pass down to a child. Make carrier screening part of your family planning process. 


Do You Know What's In Your Genes?

What is the most valuable gift you can give to your family? The gift of good health! There are many health conditions that run in families. Knowing your family health history can alert you to the potential risk for a variety of genetic disorders . Talk to your relatives for warning signs and assess your risk for hereditary cancers.

Did you know: Ashkenazi Jews are 10 TIMES more likely to have BRCA mutations, which significantly increases lifetime risks for hereditary cancers, so what does this heightened risk mean for you? Click here to learn more .