This September, Honor the Jewish New Year
& Tay-Sachs Awareness Month
In 2008, the U.S. Senate voted unanimously to designate September National Tay-Sachs Awareness Month to bring increased attention to this deadly disease.
What is Tay-Sachs Disease? Tay-Sachs disease is a rare, inherited genetic disease mainly affecting infants and young children. Babies born with Tay-Sachs disease usually develop normally for the first few months, but as the disease progresses, they begin to regress, due to the absence of the enzyme HexA, which causes excessive accumulation of specific lipids in the brain and nerve cells, resulting in progressive neurological damage. The children become blind and deaf, suffer from seizures, and have respiratory issues. Children with Tay-Sachs often die before the age of five.
There is no cure for Tay-Sachs disease, but genetic testing and counseling allows people to determine if they have an increased risk of having a child with the disease. 1 in 30 Ashkenazi (Eastern European) Jews are carriers of Tay-Sachs, and 1 in 300 people in the general population are carriers. When both parents are carriers, there is a 25% chance with each pregnancy that the child will be affected with the disease. For the small percentage of couples who are at risk, there are many options to help them have healthy children.
“A simple, at-home saliva test can really help families avoid heartbreak. JScreen is there every step of the way to provide essential information about Tay-Sachs and other diseases, and to help prospective parents make decisions about the future of their families,” explains Karen Arnovitz Grinzaid, Executive Director of JScreen.
Visit JScreen.org for more information or to get tested.
JScreen is a national non-profit public health initiative dedicated to preventing genetic diseases and hereditary cancers common in Jewish and other populations. Headquartered in Atlanta at Emory University School of Medicine, the JScreen initiative provides convenient at-home access to cutting-edge genetic testing technology, patient education, and genetic counseling services. JScreen believes the combination of education, access to premier genetic screening technologies, and personalized, confidential support are the keys to preventing devastating diseases.