Genetic testing

Most of us might have heard the term ‘Genes’ or ‘Genetic testing’. But have you ever given a thought about the role of this test when it comes to identifying whether there has been a mutation in the DNA and the effect of that mutation on our health and our family’s health? Here is why you need to know about your genetic information.

Genetic testing has numerous benefits in both cases whether the reports show a positive or a negative for gene mutation. A negative result gives relief and stops us from undergoing unnecessary checkups. In case of a positive result, it directs us towards preventive measures and treatment options that are available.  Before anyone undergoing genetic testing, it is important to make them understand the testing procedure completely along with all the possible outcomes of the test. This process of informing a person about the process and its outcomes is called ‘genetic counseling’.

What exactly happens?

After genetic counseling has been done, if the person has agreed to undergo genetic testing, it is performed on a sample of blood, hair, skin, etc. Coming to the risks that are associated with genetic tests, the physical risks are minute, especially for those tests that require an only blood sample. But when it comes to prenatal testing, there is a slight risk of miscarriage since it requires amniotic fluid that is there around the fetus.  Many of the risks associated with genetic testing involve the emotional, social, or financial consequences of the test results. People may feel angry, depressed, anxious, or guilty about their results. In some cases, genetic testing creates tension within a family because the results can reveal information about other family members in addition to the person who is tested. The possibility of genetic discrimination in employment or insurance is also a concern. Genetic testing can provide only limited information about an inherited condition. The test often can’t determine if a person will show symptoms of a disorder, how severe the symptoms will be, or whether the disorder will progress over time. Another major limitation is the lack of treatment strategies for many genetic disorders once they are diagnosed.

Only a professional can explain in detail the benefits, risks, and limitations of a particular test. It is important that any person who is considering to undergo genetic testing to consider all the above points before making the decision.

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