Friday, November 14, 2008

jeans and genes

I tried to find some decent-fitting pants today, as Brad wandered Ann Taylor with Henry, looking wide-eyed at all the bright and sparkly holiday clothes, and very happy facing out (finally!) in the Baby Bjorn. I was unsuccessful in finding any jeans (or other pants) that were better than the maternity pants I was currently wearing. So yes, I am still wearing maternity pants!

Anyway, after Henry was sleeping soundly tonight (maybe dreaming of colors and shapes he'd never seen until visiting today's Christmas-decorated mall!), Brad and I settled onto the couch to watch DVR'd shows we'd been meaning to catch up on. Brad fell asleep almost instantly (he got up with Henry last night so I could sleep some more!). I, having had a nap AND a Frappucino this afternoon, took this as a sign it was a good time to watch my recorded Oprah of the day.

One of the topics of today's show was 23 and me, a company that seems to make it shockingly easy to find out all about your genetic history and predisposition to traits and diseases. It was like I was suddenly watching a sci-fi movie. But it was just Oprah.

It's amazing to me that you can get this information for $399. I know it's a lot of money, but you'd have this information about yourself for the rest of your life--and maybe the information you get could make your life better. Or not.

I didn't opt to do any genetic testing while I was pregnant. The only condition I was concerned with, due to a slight family history, was one I'd had the test done long ago for anyway, and I wasn't a carrier. I just didn't really want to know any more. And, as crazy as this sounds, not only did I not want to find out the baby's sex before it was born, but I started to think--toward the end, after having many ultrasounds--that maybe I shouldn't even be getting so many ultrasounds. Maybe it's not good to intrude on what's still a mystery. (OK, they were necessary for health reasons, so of course I would have gotten them. And I did like peeking in on the baby. But I started to feel a little weird about it.)

But, I'm still interested in the concept of this DIY genome kit.

Maybe the difference now has to do with wanting to protect myself and my family however I can--and now that we're all here, if I find out I have a likely chance of getting, say, osteoporosis, I could make myself and future children eat a lot of organic milk. (Or whatever could help prevent that.) You get the idea.

On the other hand, percentages are not guarantees, and maybe learning there's a good chance of a certain condition would only make you focus on the negative, and be afraid of it. I don't know. How could you know if the results would make you confident or worried?

It is undeniably, crazilly futuristic, though. I am still impressed at the amazingness of e-mail or IM, sometimes (seriously!). So this just blows my mind.

I wonder what kind of traits it tells you. I'm sure it covers many diseases, but what else? Can it delve into nature-vs.-nurture topics, like "natural" talents or skills?

I don't know if I'd ever do the test. But it's pretty intriguing to know I could. And it would really take the family tree concept to a whole new level.

1 comment:

Rebecca Chastain said...

I'm similarly torn on this issue. I want the knowledge and I don't. I saw the same show, and the creators made it seem like knowledge could be only a good thing. I think it depends on your personality, though. If you're the kind of person who's going to worry more because you know you have a higher percentage for, say, breast cancer, then the DNA testing might not be for you. Which, of course, is why I'm debating it. The knowledge sounds good; the added little nagging voice saying "you've got greater-than-normal odds for ___" sounds dreadful.