Genetics ~ The Science That makes A PersonAllison Hutton
When thinking of pregnancy, most feel the "difficult" part is actually achieving two lines on the test. However, when you delve deeper into the conception process, it's amazing that babies are ever born at all. In order for one eye orbit to form completely, millions of things have to go right. Cells need to grow, nerves need to form, and genetics play a significant role, as well. However, unless you or your partner is aware of any existing genetic disorders, this may never enter your mind.
Genetics is the science that makes a baby. From the color of baby's eyes and hair, to the length of her toes, genetics plays a part. After all, we do inherit traits from our parents. However, traits can be inherited that aren't seen directly. For example, my husband and I have green eyes and our daughter has brown. Before jumping to the conclusion that she may actually belong to the milkman, we take a look at genetics. Neither set of grandparents has brown eyes either, so where did Hannah's beautiful brown eyes come from? My father has siblings with brown eyes, as does my husband's mother. So, somewhere in our genetic make up, we have the gene for brown eyes. Because neither of us has them, the "brown-eyed" gene is considered recessive. That means that, even though we don't have brown eyes, it is possible that our offspring may.
Eye and hair color, however, are harmless examples of what genetics can bring about. Genetics also determine birth defects and disease, as well as causes for miscarriage and stillbirth. Examples of genetic conditions include; Down's Syndrome, hear defects, club foot, cleft palate, and Spina Bifida, to name a few. For more information on these conditions, visit the March of Dimes website at http://www.modimes.org/HealthLibrary2/FactSheets/Default.htm.
If there is a risk of genetic problems during pregnancy, you may be advised to visit a genetic counselor. These doctors specialize in testing, identifying, and possibly treating couples that have genetic issues relating to pregnancy. One of the most common types of genetic testing is amniocentesis. During this test, a needle is passed through the mother's abdomen and through the uterine wall. A small amount of amniotic fluid is removed, and tested for conditions such as Down's syndrome. Genetic counselors will also do blood tests on you and your partner, to screen for any type of genetic disorder. This test is called a karotype. If you have a history of genetic disorders in your family, including a history of SIDS, make sure to inform your doctor. For most couples, genetics will never be an issue, but you should be aware of your family history.
Going into detail about the genetics of a newly formed human being could easily become a thesis for a doctoral degree! However, if you have more questions, or would like to know more about the science of genetics, there are several great sources on the web. Here are a few:
Chinese Gender ChartBaby Namer
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