Genetic Testing Before Your Wedding

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There’s a lot to check off the to-do list for your wedding, and getting genetic testing should be a priority! Our own newly married Social Media Manager and husband went through the process when they were engaged. That’s why we’re so happy we got to speak with Hillary Kener, the Assistant Director of National Outreach, about all things Jscreen. October is also National Gaucher Foundation Awareness Month, just one of the many diseases Jscreen screens for.

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From its humble grassroots beginnings in Atlanta, it has grown over the past three years screening thousands a year. Kener’s own background is in business and health so to bring those two passions together has been very rewarding, especially when people send in pictures of healthy babies that Jscreen has helped bring into the world. Before Jscreen, many people were not aware of Jewish genetic diseases or wouldn’t have financial mean to access screening, which can cost thousands of dollars and is often not covered by medical insurance.

One creative way to incorporate and spread the Jscreen love and importance is by telling your guests about the organization in your program or on your wedding website. It only costs $149 to get a kit so why not encourage people to be screened to ensure the health of their future children?

It can also make a great wedding gift – a JGift, from a parent, cousins aunt or uncle. They simply purchase it in your name you get a code which you give to the couple.

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The process is as easy as 1, 2, 3!

  1. Go to Jscreen’s site and order your kit directly to your home.
  2. Follow the simple kit instructions. You just spit saliva into a test tube and punch it closed.
  3. Seal your tube into your pre-labeled package and Fedex will ship it back.

That’s it!

A few weeks later a genetic counselor will go over your results with you (and your partner if you want) and answer all of  your questions. They also send you a detailed email with your results so when the time is right you can go back to your results and reconnect with your genetic counselor.

Benefits of Jscreen:

  • Highly subsidized! It only costs $149 per kit. It can usually cost around $1200 per screening if you do the test privately.
  • They give you your results. Some places will only tell you if you and your partner match for any diseases. Aliyah, our own social media manager loved the benefit of knowing all the details of their genetic testing, whether they were a match or not, “I think it’s important for me and my siblings to know that we are carriers of some genetic diseases I didn’t know about.”
  • Jscreen screens for hundreds of diseases whereas your doctor’s office will only screen for 4 or any you specify. This includes the more common Ashkenzi, Mizrahi and Sephardi diseases. Even if you’re an Interfaith couple it’s very important because you truly never know what you might match for.
  • Giving a sample of saliva in your home is much easier than a blood test in another location.

FAQs for Ketubah.com Couples:

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What should someone look for who is considering genetic screening?

Kener says to make sure it’s a comprehensive panel from a credited medical professional and certificated genetic counselors. “You want to make sure it’s not someone random. It should be someone well versed and gives you your options for the best, most accurate testing.”

How accurate is it?

Kener says to make sure it’s a comprehensive panel from a credited medical professional and certificated genetic counselors. “You want to make sure it’s not someone random. It should be someone well versed and gives you your options for the best, most accurate testing.”

How accurate is it?

Detection rate is now higher than it has ever been due to new developments in genetic testing technologies. Since each disease has its own unique characteristics, the detection rate approaches 99% for most of the diseases on the JScreen panel.

What makes Jscreen different than other genetic testing services?

Other organizations only test for limited screens and have been shut down in the past because they actually had no medical involvement. JScreen is based out of a university and medical background so you know you are getting the most informed and educated screening.

How often should one get tested?

Anytime a couple is thinking about having a child or expanding their family, they should inquire about updates to the testing panel.

Biggest Misconceptions:

  • If you or your spouse isn’t Jewish you don’t need to be tested. False
  • If you do match for a disease many people are afraid that there are no options to have healthy children but there are options! Jscreen will set you up with a genetics counselor to discuss the best options!
  • That it’s going to hurt or take a lot of time. False. It’s totally pain free and can be done in your home.
  • If your first child is healthy and if you have more they will all be healthy. False.Unfortunately, it is possible that subsequent children could get a genetic disease, even if your first child did not. Jscreen was founded by a family whose second child was born with a disease that wasn’t on the panel they had been tested for. If you haven’t been tested before, you don’t want surprises. Each child can be different.
  • Carriers show symptoms. False. Carriers are healthy individuals without symptoms! Anybody could have something but you may never know. Better to do testing now rather than later when it’s too late.

Where can people learn more about JScreen?

For more information or request a kit go to jscreen.org or email info@jscreen.org and social media accounts.





To get more information about the National Gaucher Foundation click here to read more.

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