Eyeing Hereditary Conditions
Fears & Choices
Concerns About Passing on Hereditary Conditions
Parents have children all the time, both planned and unplanned. My readers may not have ever considered the challenges that parents who have been diagnosed with hereditary go through.
In online forums and vision support groups, questions about the pros and cons of having children and passing on faulty genes crops up frequently. I’ve read comments by those who would never want to pass on their genes. There are others who say, “Don’t let your eye condition stop you from living your life and parenting children.”
There are always those that find out after the fact. It’s really tough because there are so many factors to look at–the chances of it happening, if it’s a dominant trait in a parent or family, how the parent feels about his or her condition, or if it’s comes out of the blue, which is does in quite a few cases.
Immediate Family and My Diagnosis
When i was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP), we couldn’t have been more shocked. The retinal specialist said my condition was “autosomnal recessive,” which basic meant there was no trace of it in the family genes — neither in my immediate family nor in other generations or relatives. The specialist told me the chance of me inheriting this disease was 1 in 100,000 in this circumstance. What odds! I also learned both my parents had to both have been carriers of RP. In other situations, the statistics of passing on the defective gene is 1 in 4.
Hereditary Conditions and Your Children
I dealt with the situation in ways another parent with RP may not have had to.
To begin with, I was married to a Middle Easterner so we had to discuss cultural aspects of having children and the possibility of me passing on an eye condition. My husband very blithely said, “We can handle anything. You’ll be a great mother!” You know how it is in the honeymoon stage. you think your love is invincible and your partner is perfect.
Add Multiples and A Non-Related RP Condition into the Mix
Twins entered the mix for us–though that in itself was unusual since neither of us had a history of twins in the family. The doctor thought it could be due to conceiving later in life (age 38).
I developed a rare condition during pregnancy called pre-eclampsia, (toxemia) and lost the twins while carrying them. The second twin was born prematurely. We conceived again and at three months, we lost that baby too. I always wondered what we would have done had they inherited my condition. But we never found out as we eventually divorced.
Hereditary Eye Conditions
To see a list of inherited eye conditions, click on the following link.
One Man’s Poem to His Children
I so admire the poem this vision advocate brings up as he shares his fears about passing the torch of Retinitis Pigmentosa on to his children. Though he agonizes over the possibility of that happening, he also brings up the strengths he has developed in his own life as a result of overcoming obstacles with his own condition. I find myself cheering and clasping onto his optimism as he reassures his children they have him as a successful role model. I like that he presents both sides of the issue, doesn’t gloss over the fears but also doesn’t let them hold him back.
How well can you relate to Dave’s struggle? What stands out in his philosophy?
You have just read “Eyeing Hereditary Diseases” by Amy L. Bovaird. Copyright October 2, 2017.
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