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     Some inherited diseases result when both parents silently carry the same recessive genetic trait. But now, thanks to medical advances, you can learn ways to protect your family from the devastation of certain fatal childhood diseases. A blood test can determine your carrier status.

     Different communities are at higher risk for particular diseases. For example, people of Ashkenazi Jewish descent (from Eastern or Central Europe) are at risk of having a child with a number of different diseases including those explained in this brochure: Tay-Sachs Disease, Canavan Disease and Familial Dysautonomia. Other communities may also be at higher risk for specific inherited diseases. You may want to speak with your doctor about your genetic risks.

     So what can you do to protect yourself and your family? Should you be tested? What are the options if you are a carrier? Read on for information to start answering your questions.

     Tay-Sachs, Canavan and Familial Dysautonomia are inherited fatal diseases that primarily strike young children. The diseases affect the central nervous system and cause early death by progressive degeneration. Sadly, there are no known cures. Having an affected child is rare but if you know that you and your partner are both carriers and understand the implications, there are options available to you when planning your family.

"Getting tested helped ease my mind.
I'm glad I did it as part of my family
planning process."

Research is also very active in many of these and other genetic diseases and new treatment options may arise out of research in the future. Affected families should keep updated with their local genetics centres or the specific disease foundations.
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