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Genetic Testing

Wolper Jewish Hospital provides testing for a range of genetic disorders that occur more frequently in individuals of Eastern European (Ashkenazi) Jewish ancestry through two programs:

The High School Genetic Testing Program

Offered at no cost via the High School Genetic Testing Program which has been operating since 1995 and has resulted in a reduction in the number of Tay-Sachs disease-affected children born in Australia. The program tests for Cystic Fibrosis, Tay Sachs, Canavan Disease, Familial Dysautonomia and Fanconi Anaemia and is offered to year 11 students at Emanuel School, Kesser Torah College, Masada College, Moriah College and Reddam House.

The Community Genetics Program

For couples considering starting a family, Wolper Jewish Hospital conducts testing for a range of genetic disorders. The clinic is for couples prior to falling pregnant and for those who may have missed out on the schools screening program.

If both parents are carriers, each pregnancy carries a 1 in 4 chance of a genetic disorder.

Wolper fully funds the testing for disorders listed under the schools program (Cystic Fibrosis, Tay Sachs, Canavan Disease, Familial Dysautonomia and Fanconi Anaemia). 
Testing is also available for Bloom Syndrome, Glycogen Storage Disease (Type 1A), Mucolipidosis (Type IV) and Niemann-Pick disease (Type A) for a fee.

The clinic is run by appointment on the first Sunday of each month or at pre-arranged times.
For more information, please contact Wolper Hospital on 9328 6077

Don't wait till it's too late...

Wolper Jewish Hospital has supported the Community Genetics Program for over 20 years and during this time has tested thousands of Jewish young adults to prevent the birth of children with devastating life-shortening genetic conditions.

According to Debbie Redelman, the genetic counsellor with the Program, there are a number of myths and misconceptions in the area that need to be clarified.

Myth 1 - I'm not pregnant yet. We'll get tested once we are.
"Once you are pregnant it can be too late to be tested" says Debbie. "When I see pregnant couples in my clinic, it is a real concern as time is so limited. Testing can take over 3 months, and by then it is a very different question that is being asked. The couples become stressed, the choices diminish rapidly, and the last thing anyone would want is an affected child. The time to test is before the couple starts trying to fall pregnant – preferably around the time they get married."

Myth 2 - I was tested at school, so I don't need to be tested.
"Genetic technology is rapidly changing. Now we are able to test for a wider range of genetic conditions than when you were at school, so it is worthwhile investigating re-testing."

Myth 3 - I can't bring it up with my children, they are only dating/just got married.
"Often the couples that come to see me at the right time are ones that have been nagged by their parents. Life gets busier and busier. About half of all pregnancies are not planned. Tell your children to test now."

Myth 4 - I don't need to worry, my child is marrying out.
"Every ethnic background has its own risk. It is worthwhile investigating as there is some overlap between groups, for example Cystic Fibrosis is more common in Caucasians than in Ashkenazi Jews, Thalassaemia is common in both Asians and Sephardi Jews. Encourage your children to discuss their risks with their doctor or to book in to see me at the clinic at Wolper".

Myth 5 - Testing is expensive.
The Community Genetics Program supported by Wolper Jewish Hospital offers free screening for the most common genetic diseases in the Ashkenazi community – Tay-Sachs, Cystic Fibrosis, Canavan Disease, Fanconi Anaemia and Familial Dysautonomia.

"I can't stress enough", says Debbie "how important it is for all couples with some Jewish background, to be tested for these genetic conditions. And even more so, for couples to be tested as early as possible. Don't wait until it's too late".

If one or both members of the couple are found to carry the genes for one of the conditions tested for in the Community Genetics Program, genetic counselling will be offered providing information and strategies for planning a healthy family.

For more information, please contact Wolper Hospital on 9328 6077.

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