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1a. Why are certain tests suggested for a specific sub-population, eg Tay-sachs for European Jews; toxoplasmosis for cat-owners; Downs for over-35 y.o.




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This article is from the Pregnancy Screening FAQ, by Lynn Gazis-Sax (gazissax@netcom.com) with numerous contributions by others.

1a. Why are certain tests suggested for a specific sub-population, eg Tay-sachs for European Jews; toxoplasmosis for cat-owners; Downs for over-35 y.o.

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From Robbrenner@aol.com (Robert Brenner MD):

1a. Tay Sachs testing is recommended for Jews of eastern European
heritage because these are the people who are the most likely to carry
the gene.
Testing should be done prior to pregnancy as it is more accurate. Most cases
of toxoplasmosis are not caused from cats but from poorly cooked meat.
Therefore, toxoplasmosis testing for cat owners is probably not
necessary. Down syndrome screening is available for all pregnant
women by a blood test called the triple screen. It consists of serum
alpha-fetoprotein, estriol, and HCG. Amniocentesis with chromosomal
analysis is the most accurate test.
The reason amniocentesis is offered to women age 35 and older is because the
risk of losing a pregnancy after amniocentesis is the same as the risk of
Down syndrome at age 35 (1 in 270).
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There is a FAQ in the pub/usenet/rec-pets-cats directory of rtfm.mit.edu
which includes some discussion of toxoplasmosis and cat ownership, for
those who want more details on that.

 

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