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fluthernutter's avatar

Do you worry about passing on certain genes to your kids?

Asked by fluthernutter (2566 points ) June 7th, 2012 from iPhone

Is there a physical or mental illness that runs in your family? Do you worry about passing them onto your kids? How prepared are you if it actually does?

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27 Answers

Nullo's avatar

A little bit. My asthma, ADD, and flat feet, for instance. I figure that if the girl I marry comes from a family with good lungs and arches and is un-afflicted with ADD, the bad genes will dilute and eventually recede.

jerv's avatar

That is a large part of why I got clipped.

Of all the members of my family that died from natural causes, the oldest was 66 and he was a paranoid schizophrenic. Strokes, heart attacks, and cancer took a few others between 64 and 38. And I am mildly autistic.

But wait! My wife’s family tends towards obesity, diabetes, and depression.!

If we had a kid, it would be an overweight, diabetic, nearsighted, paranoid savant with a short lifespan.

augustlan's avatar

I did worry, and even talked to my doc about genetic counseling before we started having children. He advised against it because it’s very costly and not terribly helpful in my case. My main concern was problems with immunity. I had two half-brothers, and one half-brother and I were both sick constantly as children, with seemingly ineffective immune systems. The other brother actually died at age two, because he couldn’t fight infection at all (they think it was aplastic anemia). I didn’t know about the half-brothers and their medical history until I was an adult, but once I was aware, my own childhood illnesses made much more sense to me. As it turns out, we are/were all afflicted with auto-immune diseases, to one degree or another, including our biological father (I inherited his kidney disease, but didn’t know I had it until my second pregnancy). Happily, all three of my kids have been relatively healthy, though one has a ton of allergies (I did, too). I’d say I’m aware of their health status, but not hyper vigilant. If things crop up, I talk to the doc about them, and they run the appropriate tests. So far, so good. Knock on wood!

I’m sure I passed on my anxiety to at least one of my girls, and possibly two. I didn’t worry as much about anxiety and depression, even though they run in the family. I knew they were more in our power to treat than the other stuff.

JLeslie's avatar

Only in a very very minor way do I worry about passing on something genetic. My family seems to have some autoimmune troubles on my maternal side, and we have heart disease related troubles like cholesterol on both sides, but these things are very very common in the population at large, especially the heart disease related issues. My dad is color blind, so possibly I am recessive for that, but it doesn’t worry me to pass that forward. My husband’s side has thalessemia, a blood related genetic disease, that we are pretty sure he has, but never was properly diagnosed. It doesn’t cause any major difficulties in his family.

When I was a fertility patient they routinely make you and your SO get tested. I actually did not have a worry at all when they drew our bood. I figured we were from such different parts of the world our baby would have “mutt” protection. We boh sailed through with flying colors. Now they probably test for more things. That genetic counselor said my hisbamd didn’t have thalessemia, but we think she was wrong, but they did not do very specific testing for that. Doesn’t matter.

Now, if you ask me would I worry about the possibility of my child had some sort of genetic disease, chromosonal fluke, or random mutation—big time. Something that maybe has not revealed itself in my family, but is there and we don’t know it, or just role of the dice problem, yes I do worry about it, I would like to know the baby is “healthy.” if I had been in my 20’s I probably would not be worried enough to do amnio, unless there was a specific problem showing with other testing, but now I would.

tups's avatar

When that time comes, I’ll probably worry about passing certain genes to my kids, yes. Because those certain genes are not the easiest to live with. And I’ve been told they’re hereditary. But well, it’ll probably be a long time before that becomes relevant.

elbanditoroso's avatar

No. My kids are in their 30s and the time to worry about this was 32 years ago. Nothing I can do about it now.

wundayatta's avatar

I carry a ton of genes for bipolar disorder. I also carry Cystic Fibrosis. I have passed CF on to my daughter. Who knows about the bipolar. But my daughter knows about the CF and the kids both know about my mental illness, and what can you do? It won’t be long before a full gene scan for every person is pretty cheap—maybe even covered by insurance, if you want it.

Genetic counseling is important, because having the genes doesn’t mean they will be expressed. It means you have to watch out for certain types of stressors that might cause the genes to express themselves. But how many people are equipped to understand that?

I think genetic information is pretty scary to a lot of people. People make it out to be more than it is. But still, it’s better to have the knowledge than not. At least you can prepare for things or do things to prevent problems. To remain ignorant is foolish, I think.

Bill1939's avatar

My maternal grandfather was mentally ill and committed suicide while confined in a state mental hospital. Hind site reveals that my mother was bipolar. My sister had several psychotic breaks before paranoid schizophrenia lead to her to commit suicide at age forty-three.

Sister had a daughter adopted at birth. I fear that this woman, who would be in her forties now, may have carried the genes that are responsible for mental illness and may herself have been afflicted. I too, have been diagnosed as bipolar, but survived several attempts at suicide in my youth.

More by accident than intention, I have not fathered children and I am glad.

marinelife's avatar

It’s out of my control so I don’t spend time worrying about it.

cookieman's avatar

No, because we adopted her.

bongo's avatar

Not particularly, apart from having infantile asthma and both grandmothers developed T2 diabetes later in life (they were able to control this well with diet and exercise). Both living into their 80s (one dying of cancer after smoking most of her youth the other septicaemia). Also apart from being pretty short and tending to have a lot more females in my family (there is 10 women to 3 men in my family not including grandparents) there is not many bad genes showing themselves so far however I am yet to grow up I think! I like to think that my genes are pretty good, we are all very intelligent in my family and fit and healthy and have good posture and bone structure (I have been told!) We have no history of mental illness as far as I am aware and have strong, naturally pretty straight (for brits) teeth with no one needing braces.

Judi's avatar

I didn’t think about it at the time, but I have a lot of “mommy guilt” because I didn’t consider my first husbands bi polar disorder before having kids. I love my children, they are the most a amazing people in the world, but I am so sorry that they have to suffer with this illness. They do an amazing job of dealing with it, and I know it is not easy at all. Their dad didn’t do so well and it eventually took his life.

filmfann's avatar

I wasn’t too worried about it, even though my wife and I deal with depression pretty bad. I am Schizotypal, but that doesn’t seem to have passed to the kids.
The worst traits that my kids seem to have gotten from me is a cruel sense of humor, and a lack of good sense to keep my mouth shut.

geeky_mama's avatar

Here’s a reversal for you –
According to my doctors I developed allergies after my children gave them to ME.
I had no allergies or asthma UNTIL I carried my daughter and son during pregnancy.
After my first pregnancy, at age 30, I suddenly developed allergies.
After my second pregnancy (my son – who has asthma, eczema and ADHD) I developed asthma.
Apparently some cells from the pregnancies lodge themselves in the mother’s organs and it is possible to therefore develop allergies after pregnancies. (Had no clue about this until after I’d been pregnant..but there you go.)

My nieces & nephews on hubby’s side of the family all have eczema & allergies as well (one quite severe – he’s been studied by the local University for his severe eczema)—so I think the trait must come from my husband’s side of the family.

As for my own genetics..I have some autism-spectrum and anxiety characteristics from my father’s side of the family..and one of our 3 children seems to have gotten that anxiety/perfectionism trait. I’ve apologized to her (half-kiddingly—because it also makes her rather successful at everything she does, too)..and we often talk about how it’s good to have this sort of internal drive/determination…but the flip side can be stubbornness where you should just let it go. Same thing with anxiety & introvertedness… it’s good that you can be happy all by yourself ..but sometimes it’s important to put the book down and converse with other humans.

And, I’ve apologized to the kids in advance that they’re sure to need braces..because we have a long history of having large teeth in a tiny jaw that can’t hold them all—from my mom’s side of the family.

Mariah's avatar

My uncle died of brain cancer very young, my dad has had skin cancer, my grandpa had prostate cancer, my other grandpa died young of diabetes, two of my other grandparents developed diabetes later in life, one of my second cousins has lupus, another has psoriasis, 3 of my grandparents have struggled with alcoholism, my grandma is manic depressive, and I have ulcerative colitis.

I don’t think my body could “do” pregnancy anyway. I’ll probably adopt…

Sunny2's avatar

Yes, but we’ve already done the damage. I passed my ADHD on to my daughter. She’s coping beautifully. Alzheimers is in the family, breast cancer, heart problems. The off spring are aware of this and will be on the look out. With modern medicine, they may have preventions or cures in place in time for them. Everybody’s got something in their medical history.

Coloma's avatar

The only genes I passed on to my daughter are the genes for super fast brain power and artistic talent. Unless you consider we have the exact same feet and toes. lol
Otherwise, no physical or mental defects, we come from a good line, well, minus her dads contribution of being an anal perfectionist. haha

Clearly the best contributions came from me. lololol

rebbel's avatar

I gladly pass them all on.
That is, if they are not totally worn down, and of course: will they fit them once they’ve grown to adulthood.

Facade's avatar

Yes, it’s one of the reasons why I won’t be having children.

wundayatta's avatar

One thing I often found odd during my bout with mental illness is that I have never, ever had a doubt about passing on my genes while at the same time I thought of myself as irredeemably and hopelessly defective. Somehow, even when hating myself, I had a secret and deep love for myself. Such a contradiction. I’m not sure I want to understand it, though. I wouldn’t want to be in a position where I could kill what small element of self appreciation I have. Then again, maybe it’s more powerful than I can imagine.

Leanne1986's avatar

There is a lot of mental health problems in my family (mostly my mother’s side) some of which have been passed down to me. I don’t want to pass those on.

tranquilsea's avatar

My husband and I had genetic tests run while I was pregnant with our first (a little late). My husband is a carrier of Metchromatic Leukodystrophy. Two of his cousins died before they were 7 and one died when he was 16 from this disorder. His uncle and aunt ended up having a 4th child who is a carrier of the disorder but doesn’t have it.

We both have plenty of risk factors for cancer, heart disease, strokes, auto immune disorders etc. But we also both have family on both sides who lived until they were in their 90s and 100s.

I don’t believe anyone who is currently alive with heart problems, auto immune problems etc. would rather they were never born. Having a good quality life is not wholly dependent on how healthy you are.

None of the problems I’ve mentioned thus far would have stopped me from having children.

SpatzieLover's avatar

Yes. It’s the main reason will not give birth to another child.

bea2345's avatar

@tranquilsea – that’s exactly how I feel. My pregnancy was accidental, and the first (and only) ultrasound was done during after the seventh month. Kind of late for anything to be done about any malformation. It is my belief that the hospital had got its first machine and wanted to try it. Both of us, me and my husband, have risk factors for diabetes and hypertension. On both sides of my family, there are risk factors for diabetes, cancer, hypertension, etc. etc. In 2010 I learned that I was HER+++. Almost certainly inherited from one of my maternal grandmothers. It is a bit late to worry about what my child has inherited. When describing the health status of her mother’s family, my daughter says, the physician’s face grew longer and longer during the recital.

bewailknot's avatar

Seems like people only think of this when they are a little older. Young adults seldom worry unless they have major genetic like @tranquilsea ‘s husband. I certainly didn’t think of it, and some diseases show up later in life. When we had our son my husband was not yet diabetic, and I don’t think he had relatives that were, but later several were diagnosed with diabetes. I did not know a great grandfather died of asthma in his early 20s, and I was not diagnosed with asthma until I was 27 (by then my son was 9).

JLeslie's avatar

@bewailknot You obviously were not raised by my mother. LOL. Funny, my SIL said she never worried about her babies having any minor or major genetic problems/diseases when she was pregnant, not known or what could happen with a chromosonal fluke. I thought that was so bazaar not to have it pass her thoughts at all. She was 32 I think when her first child was born.

wildpotato's avatar

Taysachs. I may be a carrier because only one of my patents was tested, and they are both Ashkenazi. I don’t worry about it because I don’t plan to have children with another member of my ethnic group, and if I do I will make sure one of us gets tested.

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