Jewish Genetics & You. A Program for Docs, Rabbis and Families. Sept 30-Oct 2

September 12, 2013 | Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit

Did you know that there are now tests for more than 25 diseases of concern to people of Jewish heritage?  To raise awareness of the risks for disease in the Jewish gene pool and the benefits of screening, the Federation’s Alliance for Jewish Education has been working closely with the Jewish Genetic Disease Consortium (JGDC), a New York based organization, to   present a three-part program for physicians, rabbis and couples in the community, September 30 and October 1 at the Max M. Fisher Federation Building and October 2 at the Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital.

Monday, September 30

Shari Ungerleider, Project Coordinator of the JGDC and Randy Yudenfriend Glaser, JGDC Chair, will present Couples Aware– an Educational Program for Rabbis 10:00am-11:30am at the Max. M. Fisher Jewish Federation Building.

Tuesday, October 1

The JGDC will present  Jewish Genetics & You: A Community Program 7:30pm-9:00pm at the Max M. Fisher Building.

Wednesday, Oct 2

The JGDC will present Grand Rounds to the OB/GYN Department at the Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital on Wednesday, October 2.  For details, please contact the JGDC at info@JewishGeneticDiseases.org or 855.642.6900 with any questions.

About the JGDC

The JGDC consists of geneticists, physicians, rabbis and families who have been affected by one of the genetic disease. The JGDC was created in 2005 and gives one voice to many organizations that share the common goal of increasing awareness and carrier screening for genetic diseases found more frequently in the Jewish population.

For decades, it has been common for Jews to be to be tested for Tay-Sachs, a degenerative disease that is usually fatal by the age of 4.  However, many other disorders that are found in the Jewish communities are less known, but just as devastating.  It is also important to know that interfaith couples should also be screened for these diseases.  Although they are more common amongst the Jewish population, they are found in the general population as well, at a lower carrier rate.

There are different genetic concerns for people of Ashkenazi Jewish background (Germany or Eastern Europe), and persons of Sephardic or Mizrahi Jewish background (Mediterranean, Iran/Persia or Middle East). There are currently 19 diseases for which Ashkenazi Jews can be screened.  Screening for Sephardic or Mizrahi Jews is dependent on country of origin and requires consultation with a genetic counselor. These diseases are autosomal recessive, which means that both parents must be carriers of the same disease to have an affected child.  If they are both carriers, each pregnancy has a 25 percent chance that their child will be affected with that disease.  Carrier status can be passed down through many generations without anyone being aware.

The JGDC recommends screening prior to conception as this affords the couple many more options. Genetic screening panels are now affordable and often covered by insurance. If carrier couples are discovered through screening, there are many options for that couple to have healthy family.   Please visit the JGDC website for more information on the diseases and carrier screening, www.JewishGeneticDiseases.org

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