23andMe is an affordable, simple, do-it-yourself DNA spit kit that tests your carrier status for developing certain health conditions. This test considers individual genetic markers, traits, and risk factors to determine what you may be prone to. In other words, the purpose of this testing kit is to find out what you and members of your family are genetically at-risk for. The intention is to help you plan accordingly in order to ensure you and your loved ones live a longer and healthier life.
My initial reaction to this genetic screening test was positive. To have the knowledge to protect my child with powerful information that could potentially save his life is a scientific breakthrough. If I knew what to expect then I could be better prepared to handle the situation presented to me. But after serious contemplation, I’m still on the fence about this one. Not entirely sure how I feel about knowing if my son has a genetic potential to an inherit disease. But, part of me is still curious and wonders if I were aware of his predispositions, then I could be better equipped to manage his chance at a better, fuller life. Knowing that there are precautionary measures available puts me at greater ease for the unexpected. Could I alter the course of his chromosomal destiny by avoiding certain triggers and bypassing the onset of something scary? Tempting, indeed.
On the other hand, I think there’s a fine line between wanting to be prepared and being overly cautious to a fault. I’m afraid that with too much information regarding the likelihood of susceptibility to a condition, one might instinctually want to create a “Bubble Boy” scenario, which is not ideal either. I’m not so sure I would want to live in fear, knowing that my child has a genetic code that makes him prone to a certain fate. Anticipation of the outcome would be torture. So in this case, maybe ignorance is bliss.
I’m left wondering, would knowing too much rob my child of his freedom in the name of prevention and early intervention? Or is being informed beneficial to ensuring his well-being. I ask myself, is messing with nature a good or bad thing in this case? The whole nature vs nurture debate lingers in the back of my mind. As I struggle to decide which argument dominates in this case, I realize certain things are innate and at-times unavoidable. But can managing certain exposures affect one’s genetic expression? Quite possibly. So I’m still undecided but definitely intrigued and still considering it as a possibility.
Where do you stand on this topic? I’d love to hear why you would or wouldn’t want to know about your family’s generic health risks.
Photo credit: Bitzi