Published on: 09/22/2020
The Victor Center for the Prevention of Jewish Genetic Diseases, which offers preconception screening and genetic counseling for prospective parents, has recently expanded services to offer genetic screening and virtual clinical consults to couples and individuals in New York, New Jersey and Maryland.
The center, which also serves Florida, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, helps future parents identify whether they are at risk of passing on genetic diseases, including those common among people of Jewish ancestry.
“Not everyone knows their full ancestral heritage, so we encourage anyone planning to start a family and their partner to undergo screening,” said Debbie Wasserman, Outreach Coordinator/Genetic Counselor for the Victor Center.
Jewish genetic diseases are a group of recessive, inherited disorders that occur with significant frequency in the Ashkenazi Jewish community (those of eastern or central European descent). Individuals of Ashkenazi descent have higher carrier rates for diseases such as Tay-Sachs, Canavan, familial dysautonomia, and Gaucher. Many of the diseases are severe, and some are fatal in childhood.
One in two of those of Ashkenazi descent is a carrier for at least one Jewish genetic condition, and Sephardic and Mizrachi Jews are also at increased risk for certain genetic disorders. More than half of participants in the Victor Center screening program are carriers for one or more of the 225 plus conditions on the expanded screening panel, which also includes disorders found in other ethnicities.
The Victor Center offers a convenient screening process during this time of social distancing. Upon request, a genetic counseling session is scheduled and a screening kit is mailed to the home. Recipients provide saliva samples and return the kit to a lab for processing. Once results are available, a video consult is coordinated to convey understanding and address questions.
There is a fee for Victor Center screening services. However, most medical insurance plans cover the service. For more information, please call 786-897-9587 or visit www.victorcenter.org
About the Victor Center
The Victor Center was founded in 2002 by Lois B. Victor in partnership with Einstein Healthcare Network in Philadelphia. Ms. Victor lost two children to a Jewish genetic disease before a test for the disorder became available. The experience galvanized her commitment to ensuring that no family endures the heartache of a preventable illness by making certain that Jews of childbearing age are screened and get the information they need to have healthy children. Nicklaus Children’s Hospital was appointed the National Office for the Victor Center in 2017. The Nicklaus Children’s Hospital Victor Center maintains the nation-wide collaborative work of the center in promoting education related to preconception screening while increasing knowledge, awareness, and access to genetic services.