It just got a lot easier — and cheaper — to find out if you and your partner both carry the genes that cause two disorders. Today, Good Start Genetics Company is launching a $149 home genetic-screening test for couples. It tests for cystic fibrosis (CF) and spinal muscular atrophy (SMA).
Genetics is complicated, to put it mildly, but in the United States, as many as 1 in every 31 adults has a genetic mutation that causes CF, even when they are perfectly healthy. For CF and SMA, if both parents carry a mutation for the same disorder, this vastly increases the chance that any baby born to the couple will suffer from it. Twenty-five percent of babies whose parents both carry a mutation for CF will be born with it, for example. And while disorders like CF and SMA are fairly rare, they are both very serious and neither is currently curable. SMA is the most common cause of death from a genetic disorder for infants worldwide.
Pregnant women are commonly tested for all sorts of potential problems. Dr. Jacques Moritz, an affiliate associate professor OB/GYN at Weill Cornell, says the current standard test looks for 189 different mutations that can cause CF, SMA, or Fragile X Syndrome, another rare disorder. But the VeriYou test is meant for couples who aren’t pregnant yet, to see if they are compatible with one another, since the risks are so much greater if both parents carry markers for the same disorder. Pre-pregnancy tests are available, but they’re often expensive and not covered by insurance.
The company says their results are over 99 percent accurate, and they are working directly with Amazon to market the product “to couples at the right time, based on life stage insights from Amazon.” How’s that for a creepy future? You’re being targeted by Amazon for lots of things already — why not a spit test to see if you and your partner are likely to have a healthy baby or not?