Get screened for Jewish genes!

Why it’s so important to get tested for genetic diseases

Get screened for Jewish genes!

On Nov. 13th, the Atlanta Jewish Gene Screen (AJGS), a community partner of JF&CS and sponsor of VIA (Volunteers in Action) , is holding a community-wide genetic screening. JF&CS strongly supports the mission of AJGS and we invited Nancy Citrin, AJGS Project Manager, to contribute to our blog this week. We hope you find AJGS to be a valuable resource and share this information with friends, colleagues, neighbors and loved ones.

When people find out what I do for a living, they often ask – especially if they have no immediate plans to start a family – “Why should I get screened now?” Here’s my answer: you need to get your carrier status before you become pregnant, when you have the most options.

I have always been on the frontline of healthcare issues and as project manager for the Atlanta Jewish Gene Screen, I find myself there again. Breakthrough research over the past few years enables testing for new Jewish genetic diseases (JGDs). The work I do is particularly rewarding because the diseases we advocate about are preventable.

When I was planning my own family in the 1980s, I got tested for one disease: Tay-Sachs. It was the only disease for which we could be screened at the time. My husband and I were not carriers. Now there is screening available for 19 JGDs. There is so much more information and prevention opportunities available to us now that were just not around then. If we don’t take advantage, we are missing the chance to help ensure the birth of healthy children. Jewish genetic diseases are a preventable tragedy. It is so easy to be screened and so unnecessary for any parent to have to endure the heartache of a child born with one of these preventable diseases.

Many people voice their concern about the cost of screening. Although screening is covered by many insurance providers, coverage may not be 100 percent, or there is a deductible to deal with. The best solution is to find out what is covered by your plan and contact us if cost is an obstacle to your getting screened. We do provide assistance in cases of financial hardship.

Still others tell me it doesn’t run in their families, so there is no need to be screened. My answer to them is: one in five Jews is a carrier for at least one of 19 Jewish genetic diseases. Finding out if you are a carrier is crucial because it may affect the health of your future children.

We hope you will join us in spreading the word about the importance of screening. Tell your neighbors, friends, families, adult children, nieces and nephews. Tell yourselves!

Our next community screening will be held Sunday, November 13, at the Marcus JCC in Atlanta from 2 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. You may preregister at www.victorcenters.org/screenings/default.aspx?eid=24. For pre-approval on insurance coverage, please register before November 9th.   We will accept walk-ins the day of the screening.

You can find more information about the 19 diseases at www.atlantajewishgenescreen.org/jewish-genetic-diseases/

ABOUT: AJGS was founded by Randy Gold, a JF&CS board member, and his wife, Caroline. The two of them have a healthy son and a daughter, Eden [Eden’s story], who has Mucolipidosis IV (ML4), one of the 19 preventable genetic diseases screened for by AJGS. Thanks to their compassion, with the help of the Victor Center and the Marcus Foundation, the community is now aware of the importance of being screened.

Written by Nancy Citrin, Posted in JF&CS - Hope and Opportunity Happen Here, Counseling Services

About the Author

Nancy Citrin

Nancy Citrin

Nancy Citrin is project manager for the Atlanta Jewish Gene Screen. Before that, she spent 28 years in the pharmaceutical industry working in sales, marketing and as an associate director.  She has a BS in nursing and worked as an ICU nurse for seven years.