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What is Genetic Testing? Know Everything about Genetic Testing

It is only natural for us humans to be worried about the health of our near and dear ones. When Mamta and her husband decided to have a baby, their priority was to ensure they wouldn’t pass on any unintended medical ailments to the fetus such as a risk of cancer, Down Syndrome, brain damage, and so on. They wanted to be prepared in case the baby would develop any medical conditions through genetic material. 

Not only does this put one’s mind at ease but it also helps them plan ahead with regards to the medical care they receive. 

The medicinal world is making great advances in this area. As a result, most people with genetic disorders or traits that they may have inherited, have a better chance of leading healthier lives. 

One such way to ensure that is genetic testing, which was what Mamta’s medical counselor advised her to take. 

However, before she went in for the procedure, Mamta decided to dig a little and understand the test, explore its uses, and learn about the process of genetic testing. Here’s what she found: 

What is Genetic Testing?

Genetic testing is also commonly known as DNA testing. These tests are mainly conducted to identify changes in a chromosome structure or DNA sequence. It is able to identify various mutations which have the power to increase the risks of genetic disorders in your system. 

It is of course a voluntary process. The decision to get it can be complex and personal. There have been a variety of genetic tests that have developed over the course of many years. Early forms of these tests began in the 1950s. It started with counting the number of chromosomes present in each cell. 

It is possible to use genetic testing to diagnose a genetic disorder at a very early stage or rule out suspected genetic disorders. In a medical setting, it can predict risks that pertain to specific conditions. Genetic testing can actually be used to customize medical treatments for an individual based on their genetic composition. Not to miss, genetic testing is extremely trusted in matters of law since it is a process to authenticate biological parentage.  

How is a Genetic Test Conducted?

If someone in your family decides to take a DNA test, you can help them out by arranging for them to meet a health care provider. The usual samples that can be used to conduct this test are hair, nails, skin, saliva, amniotic fluid, urine, blood, mucus or other tissue. 

Once the sample is collected, it will be sent to a lab where trained technicians of this field will look for specific changes in the chromosomes, proteins or DNA. What is to be tested mostly depends on the kind of suspected disorder, if any, it is being tested for. 

Why is Genetic Testing important?

As it was discussed at the beginning of this article, we always look for ways to ensure medical safety for our near and dear ones. 

Genetic testing is an effective way of learning beforehand if a certain genetic condition has been running in your family. It is surely helpful for people who are eager to conceive. It gives them a great opportunity to have information beforehand and be prepared for possible difficult situations. 

Most importantly, it has been able to help a lot in the fields of cancer prevention and treatment plan. 

Types of Genetic Testing

Every kind of genetic test is conducted for a separate reason. Several possible ways of genetic testing are as follows –

  • Pre-symptomatic and predictive testing: 

There are high chances of people inheriting certain types of genetic disorders if other members of their family have been carrying them previously. This kind of genetic testing helps you find out the chances of you being at risk of carrying the genes of that particular disorder, even before you develop any symptoms. This is the most commonly used test to determine the chances of carrying possible cancerous genes. 

  • Parental Testing: 

This is the kind of genetic testing that is of great help during pregnancy. It helps you detect any abnormalities in your baby’s genes. A newer and more advanced kind of DNA testing makes the baby’s DNA testable through a blood sample of the mother. In care of parental testing, Down syndrome and trisomy 18 syndrome are two most commonly screened genetic disorders. 

  • Diagnostic testing: 

There is always a possibility that you are carrying mutated genes that may cause a genetic disorder. This is the kind of test that is conducted when you show symptoms of any possible genetic disease. For example, the diagnosis of cystic fibrosis is usually confirmed by genetic testing. 

  • Carrier testing: 

If there is any history of a particular kind of genetic disorder in your family, you can choose to go through genetic testing before deciding to have children. Genes associated with a wide variety of genetic diseases and mutations can be identified with an expanded carrier screening test. As a result, you will have information regarding the possibility of you and your partner carrying the same conditions. 

  • Newborn screening: 

This is actually the most common type of genetic testing. In some places, like the United States of America for example, it is compulsory in all states for newborns to go through basic genetic testing so that any possible genetic or metabolic abnormality can be detected at a stage, where it is treatable. 

  • Pharmacogenetics:

This type of genetic testing helps medical professionals to decide on the kind of medication and its dosage most effective for your condition, most suitable in your stage, in the care you’re suffering from a genetic disorder. 

Are there any drawbacks of Genetic Testing?

Like any complex process in the world, genetic testing also has its drawbacks:

  • Going through these kinds of tests has often proven to increase stress and anxiety. 
  • In some cases, the results coming back as inconclusive is possible.
  •  There are also chances that you might not be eligible for certain tests if you don’t match the required criteria. 

These things can often cause disturbances in relationships and family life. That is why you should always talk to near and dear ones while making such decisions and ensure that these genetic tests are being conducted through authentic and dependable sources. Mamta and her husband did their due diligence and had long discussions with their family members to ensure there was no strain in relationships. 

Hope this helps!

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