At the Gwendolyn Strong Foundation, we want as many people as possible to know that 1 in 40 people unknowingly carry a severe mutation in the SMA gene. Getting tested before pregnancy is one of the best ways to make sure that your child does not fall victim to a possibly lethal genetic disease.
And the least expensive way to do that today is with the Universal Genetic Test.
Counsyl has been gracious enough to donate five Universal Genetic Tests to the Gwendolyn Strong Foundation in recognition of August as SMA Awareness month. They have been building up a reputation as a patron of many rare disease foundations, and we believe wholeheartedly in their mission: to make preventive carrier testing accessible to everyone. We believe that every woman has the right to know her own genetic information, and the right to act on this knowledge to make informed, educated reproductive decisions about her children and her family.
Why is carrier screening important?
The American College of Medical Genetics (ACMG) recommends that all adults of reproductive age who are planning to conceive be offered carrier testing for spinal muscular atrophy. Unfortunately, most parents do not find out they are carriers until they have a child born with a genetic disease. Early testing is the only way to know if your pregnancy will be at high risk, and to allow you and your doctor to take specific actions to conceive a healthy child or prepare for the birth of a child with a genetic disease. Ideally, carrier testing should be done before pregnancy to provide you with the most options for prevention.
The Universal Genetic Test screens for SMA and more than one hundred other inherited genetic diseases. If you and your partner are found to be carriers of SMA or another genetic disease, you will have a 1 in 4 (or 25%) chance of having an affected child. This risk applies to every pregnancy – so even if you already have healthy children, you could still be at risk of having a baby with SMA or another genetic disease.
How does the Universal Genetic Test work?
The Universal Genetic Test screens for causal mutations for more than 100 serious diseases such as spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), cystic fibrosis, sickle cell, Tay-Sachs, and many more. Taking the test is simple:
- Request the Counsyl Universal Genetic Test through your doctor
- Provide a sample of blood or saliva
- Receive your results from your doctor in 2 to 3 weeks
That’s it. The whole process takes less than 5 minutes.
Like any carrier screening test, some carriers will not be detected, but a negative result can significantly reduce your risk of having a child with SMA or another serious genetic disease. The Universal Genetic Test costs at most $349 per test — nothing compared to the heartache of losing a child — and most insurance plans cover the cost of the test.
How to enter our drawing for a Universal Genetic Test:
- “Like” Gwendolyn Strong Foundation on Facebook
- Leave a comment on this blog post saying that you are entering. Example: “I want to receive a Universal Genetic Test. (Be sure to write your Facebook name and leave your email so we can contact you if you win. If you are already a fan on Facebook, leave that in the comment on this blog post and be sure to leave your Facebook name so we can verify).
In addition, you may know at least one person with a family history of one of the one hundred plus inherited genetic diseases covered by the test.
- BONUS ENTRY >> Tell a friend, family member, or spouse. Have them follow the same instructions above to enter our drawing for a free test, mentioning that you invited them. Example: “I want to receive a Counsyl Universal Genetic Test and @Jane Doe sent me.” They will be entered and you will receive an additional entry for each person who mentions you.
The Fine Print: 1) All entries must be received by 11 pm Thursday, September 8th. Two winners were already selected and announced on September 1st. Three additional recipients will be selected at random and announced Friday, September 9th. Selection will be performed using Random.org. The recipient must claim their test within 48 hours by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or a new recipient will be selected. 2) You cannot enter for someone else — everyone must leave a comment on our fan page and blog post for themselves. 3) You must be 18 years or older to enter. 4) US residents only.
Knowledge is power. Every woman and man has the right to know their own genetic makeup, and to make the reproductive decisions they believe appropriate to protect the health of their children and their family.