Saturday, February 13, 2010

Do you procreate if you have bad genes??

I found this article and the subsequent comments very interesting. To view the comments and full article, click here.

Do you procreate if you have a bad gene? Discuss

04. Still AliceI’m reading a gripping and scary novel called “Still Alice,” by Lisa Genova, about a Harvard psychology professor who develops early onset Alzheimer’s. The novel is written from Alice’s perspective so you are in her head as she slowly loses her grip on reality and what’s going on around her.

Bear with me, this does relate to parenting: After she learns she has the disease, she is told that it is genetic and a test exists to screen her three grown children. One of her grown daughters is undergoing fertility treatment to try to have a baby. Alice thinks about what she would have done had she known she carried the gene before she got pregnant.

Would she have conceived these children or taken precautions to prevent them? Would she have been willing to risk the random roll of meiosis? Her amber eyes, John’s aquiline nose, and her presenilin-1. Of course, now, she couldn’t imagine her life without them. But before she had children, before the experience of that primal and previously inconceivable kind of love that came with them, would she have decided it would be better for everyone not to?

This is interesting because most of us carry a gene for disease in our family history. My mother has diabetes and I knew the gene could be passed on. I decided to have children. Part of my decision was based on the fact that my mother took good care of herself and lived a normal life without complications (she continues to do great). I also developed diabetes at 28 after having gestational diabetes with my first pregnancy. My oldest daughter does not have diabetes; my youngest was diagnosed when she was 4. Don’t know how I could possibly have regrets. She lives a normal life on the insulin pump and is perfectly healthy. I would make the decision again today.

In the book “Still Alice,” her daughter decides to have children. Since she is doing in vitro fertilization, they will screen the embryos and only implant those without the gene for Alzheimer’s.

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