As a young man or woman, knowing your genotype should be on your list of priorities before marriage…
Falling in love might seem like the easiest thing to do in the life we’re in; but many a times have people disregarded the very vital factors which determine the sustainability of relationships cum marriages. While the saying that “true love conquers all” still stands; medical researchers have however greatly disagreed, when it comes to various health challenges proven to become major bane in marriages, if left unattended.
This brings us to the issue of genotype. While waiting to find love or for love to find you; it is almost compulsory to go for some very important medical tests of which hemoglobin genotype is one of them.
Knowing Your Genotype
First off, what does Genotype mean?
Genotype is the genetic makeup of an individual with reference to a trait or multiple traits. Genotype can also be referred to as a collection of genes passed from parents to children. Genotypes are divided into four namely: AA, AS, SS, AC. The AC genotype is not common. While AA and AS are normal genotypes, SS and AC are the abnormal genotypes usually referred to as sickle cells. Depending on the parents’ genotype, children born of same parent have different genotypes, except for rare cases of twins or multiple births that have been fertilized from the same egg.
Before the practice of orthodox medicine came into the picture, there used to be high rate of child mortality -as there was no knowledge on blood group or genotype. In Africa, massive ignorance on the part of people of the olden days, had caused them to refer to such deaths as a curse or bad omen, among many other things.
But today, Africa and the whole world at large remains grateful to modern day medicine, which has proffered credible solutions to different medical complications. Biological explanations which have been made on the causes of infant death rate, has led to the discovery of sickle cells.
Sickle cells refers to a group of inherited red blood cell disorders. Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) disorder arises when there is blockage in the blood vessels, which hinders the flow of oxygen. People who have sickle cell disease have abnormal hemoglobin, also known as sickle hemoglobin in their red blood cells.
Hemoglobin carries oxygen throughout the body. When the red blood cells do not get enough oxygen as a result of abnormal hemoglobin, there will be changes in the original “disc shape” to a sickle shape or crescent shape.
As a result of the lack of tissue oxygen, sickle cell patients are prone to attacks of sudden, severe pain, also known as pain crises. These pain attacks can occur without warning, and a person often needs to go to the hospital for effective treatment.
How Can Sickle Cell be Inherited?
Sickle cell disease is not contagious like Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD) or other communicable diseases. In all cases, sickle cells are usually inherited. This simply means that the disease is passed by genes from parents to their children. Sickle cells patients inherit two abnormal hemoglobin genes -Hemoglobin S, one from each parent. Simply put; two Hemoglobin S gene from each parent, will bring about the unfortunate situation of having a child with Haemoglobin SS -the sickle cell anemia.
According to researchers; a person who has haemoglobin genotype as AS, SS or SC, is at a big risk of giving birth to a child with SS; if he marries someone who is AS or SS. In a clear analysis; if a man with AS marries a woman with AS, one in every 4 children they have will be SS. While this is according to scientific theory; in reality, chances are that one child could be the first child.
Moreso, that one child in every 4 children could manifest as 4 children in every 16 children; meaning the first 4 children can still be SS. The couple in this case would have to give birth to more than 10 children to stand a chance of having a child who is either AA or AS.
This clearly explains why it is very important for partners to undergo a haemoglobin genotype test. This will enable them determine if they have the abnormal hemoglobin gene in their blood. If the test results eventually shows hemoglobin S from each of them, it is advised they quit the idea of getting married or having kids together, as there are high chances they would give birth to an SS.
Knowing your genotype will go a long way in determining who you should get married to. AS and AS are advised not to get married because of the probability of giving birth to an SS child. ]
It is important for partners to know their genotype in the early stages of their relationships, before they become so emotionally involved -to avoid having to pull away against their wish.
Having said that; here are the different genotypes and their perfect matches:
AA + AA = Excellent
AA + AS = Good
AA + SS = Fair
AS + AS = Bad
AS + SS = Very Bad
SS + SS = Extremely Bad
Although the reasons for knowing one’s genotype before marriage, have been glaringly highlighted above; it is still important to lay more emphasis, to enable you make the right decision for yourself and your unborn children.
Ignorance is a Deadly Disease
We strongly believe that this post has proven beyond every reasonable doubt that ignorance in this case, is indeed very deadly. Across the globe, sickle cell patients are never expected to live long. Although the severity of the disease varies widely from person to person, the life expectancy of a person with sickle cell disease is now about 40–60 years; this is in 1st world countries like the United States of America (USA).
In 1973, the average lifespan of a person with SCD in the United States was only 14 years. But advances and discoveries in diagnosis and care, have made it possible for a significant improvement in health management of sickle cell patients. However in continents like Africa, there is still a significant rate of sickle cell infant mortality.
Though there have been exceptional cases where sickle cell patients lived up to 80-90 years, the idea of a couple having the hemoglobin S; and going ahead to procreate, is highly cautioned against -because not everyone will be that lucky.
Understand Your Body System
Individuals with the AA genotype are very prone to malaria – as infants and sometimes as adults. Knowing your genotype will make it easy for you to understand your body system. You will have a good knowledge of how to take care of your health; knowing things to eat and things to avoid.
Prevention they say, is better than cure. Moreover, the society no longer provides excuse for ignorance. Before marriage, partners should visit at least two hospitals, to undergo a genotype test. It is also important for parents to check the genotype of their children immediately after birth, to enable them know the health status of the child, with regards to how they can maintain the child’s health.