The what, why, how, where and cost of genotype test

Genotype test

The what?

Genotype simply means the heritable composition of your genes i.e. what your genes are made of that you inherit from from your parents. This determines your characteristics.

Hemoglobin is the molecule in our red blood cells that carries oxygen. Putting it together, hemoglobin genotype testing is a test to determine the genotype of your hemoglobin.

There are four hemoglobin genotypes in humans:

  • AA
  • AS
  • AC
  • SS

SS and AC are the abnormal ones.

The Why?

Why do we need to know our genotype?

Of all the disease affecting hemoglobin (hemoglobinopathy), sickle cell disease is the most common with the highest prevalence in people of African, Asian, South European and Middle-eastern descent. It is estimated that at least 150,000 children are born yearly with sickle cell disease.

Knowing one’s genotype before choosing a life partner is important because there may be compatibility issues which could have devastating effects when it comes to conception, childbirth and eventually taking care of the child to adulthood.

For marriageability/marriage counselling:

  • AA can marry anybody
  • AS is better off with AA
  • AS and AS, AS and AC are too risky (in my opinion, dont marry for the sake of your unborn child)
  • SS and SS= dont marry and if you must, avoid conception.

The how?

Sickle cell disease is an autosomal recessive genetic disorder meaning you need two parents to be carriers i.e. they don’t have the disease but they carry the gene if each of them are AS, two AS carriers have a 25% (1 in 4) chance of producing a sickle cell (SS) child in each pregnancy. This is contrary to the erroneous believe that out of 4 children, one will be SS and the others will be AS or AA. If you and your spouse are genotype AS, you can have 4 children and they are all sicklers (SS).

It is important to do a genotype test and know your genotype before you are sexually active or before getting pregnant, so that you can choose your life partner wisely and plan for your baby properly.

If you are AA: you can marry anyone.

AS: preferably marry AA

Combination of AS and AS is too risky.

The law? intending couples must now do genotype test before marriage.

A bill seeking to compel intending couples to undergo genotype test before getting married is currently in the upper chamber of the Nigerian National Assembly and it has passed second reading. It is a legislative attempt to curb the menace of sickle cell disease in Nigeria.

The where and cost of genotype test

Where can you check your genotype? And at what cost?

Genotype testing can be done at most labs across Nigeria and the price is about N1,000- N2,000 naira. Prenatal (while the baby is still in the womb) genotype test is currently available in Lagos and Abuja (Nigeria) and is still very expensive. It costs about N200,000 naira.

READ ALSO: Lab tests for HIV

In Summary:

It is very crucial to know your genotype before choosing a life partner, the cure for sickle cell disease which is bone marrow transplant is still very high and available to only few Nigerians. Do not leave your case to luck, go for a genotype test today!

More work needs to be done by the health sector in informing the public on the dangers of sickle cell disease and the urgent need for genotype testing.

Read more on Wikipedia.

This article was written by DR IRIGO CHRISTIANA

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