(Don't) Be Still, My Beating Heart - Part 2

(Don't) Be Still, My Beating Heart - Part 2

Heart Disease and why DNA matters

Genes involved in the function of our cardiovascular system differ, ranging from those involved in the structure of the heart, the shape and density of the muscle cells and connective tissues, and even the function of the cells involved in electrical signals that tell the heart to pump. Genes can even influence how much cholesterol our bodies create. (You read that right! Not all cholesterol comes from our food!).

(Don’t) Be Still, My Beating Heart

(Don’t) Be Still, My Beating Heart

Valentine’s Day has come and gone, but it doesn’t mean we stop talking about hearts! February is Heart Month, which makes it a perfect time to discuss heart health and how genetic counseling and DNA testing might help you understand your chance of heart disease.

Helping everyone get connected to reliable information to understand DNA testing - whether for ancestry purposes or medical - is a central goal of my blog, so I’m taking a detour from my recent posts on family matching surprises to visit this DNA health topic. This posts kicks off a three-part series on DNA and heart health. Part one will cover the basics before we dive further into genetic counseling and at-home tests and third party reports that give information related to cardiovascular issues.

Our genetics can contribute to a chance for heart issues, but it’s not the only factor. Read on to learn more!

“I am thankful that she told me the truth when I asked” - Christa’s Story of a DNA Surprise

“I am thankful that she told me the truth when I asked” - Christa’s Story of a DNA Surprise

The recorded re-telling of a painful and emotional experience of uncovering a DNA surprise is helpful for others to read. It supports and validates others who are going through the same thing, and it provides insight for the friends, family, and professionals who will be there alongside a person on their journey following the unexpected discovery.

An important point that my next guest blogger, Christa, makes is that receiving the truth from her mother rather than denial held so much value to her. She was so grateful that her mom ‘came clean’ straight away when she came to her with the discovery that the father she had grown up believing was her biological father was not.

Telling an adult or minor child they were donor-conceived if they haven't been told yet

Telling an adult or minor child they were donor-conceived if they haven't been told yet

If you are a parent of a child who was conceived with a donor egg or sperm and they do not yet know it, the time to be proactive is now. Consumer DNA tests like 23andMe and AncestryDNA are changing the way people discover their genetic origins, and this new reality has implications for many people, including those who have kept the secret of donor conception hidden from their children.

Brianne Kirkpatrick Quoted in PhillyVoice article on unexpected DNA surprises

I recently spoke with Brian Hickey who writes for PhillyVoice. In this piece which covers the topic of support after unexpected DNA discoveries, I shared my thoughts on the topic and touched briefly on the role grief and support play in these experiences.

You can find the article HERE.

Genetic Sexual Attraction - a couple’s story going viral as a result of a 23andMe test discovery

Genetic Sexual Attraction - a couple’s story going viral as a result of a 23andMe test discovery

A story was posted a few days ago on Reddit by someone claiming to have discovered he and his girlfriend are half-siblings, the discovery coming after both opted in to the DNA Relatives feature for their 23andMe test.

Both reportedly knew they were donor-conceived and were on the hunt for their paternal biological families, but apparently neither was suspecting the possibility they may have come from the same sperm donor. The discovery was reportedly and understandably traumatic, with the relationship being ended same-day and temporary thoughts of suicide mentioned by the writer of the Reddit post.

"I think I figured out my father isn't my father, but I don't know what to do now."

"I think I figured out my father isn't my father, but I don't know what to do now."

If you’re searching the web because your DNA test results have totally taken you aback, I am so sorry you are going through this. Ancestry tests work like paternity testing, in that they are able to detect whether or not you are matching to close biological family correctly or not. The results can be confusing, especially to someone not familiar with the way ancestry test results are displayed.

If your results just came back today and someone you are expecting to see in your match list isn’t there, first of all give it a few days - make sure the testing company’s system has had a chance to finish working through and matching you to their large database of other testers. Sometimes you just need a little more time for all your DNA matches to show up properly.

“Pharmaco-Whaat?! Understanding pharmacogenomic testing and how it could aid your doctor in prescribing medication

“Pharmaco-Whaat?! Understanding pharmacogenomic testing and how it could aid your doctor in prescribing medication

Many of us take medications to stay healthy and treat conditions such as depression and cardiovascular disease. However, some people respond differently to some medicines, and part of that difference is due to our genetic makeup. Genetic tests that identify and characterize these variations are available, and you may be wondering if those tests are a good idea for you. Here are some points to consider:

Brianne Kirkpatrick Quoted in WebMD Magazine Articles on At Home DNA Testing

Brianne Kirkpatrick Quoted in WebMD Magazine Articles on At Home DNA Testing

I recently spoke with Sonya Collins who writes for WebMD Magazine. I shared my thoughts and advice on at home DNA tests based on years of both personal and professional experience, and I was pleased to see TWO articles come from it!

Please read, especially the second article! It will equip you to be a savvy chooser of a DNA tests you might purchase online and you can find more detailed advice than what made it into the article HERE.

A Call from Wendell: James's DNA Surprise Story

A Call from Wendell: James's DNA Surprise Story

TThe uncovering of one DNA surprise can sometimes have a domino effect in a family. It is understandable how words like “unraveling” are used to describe situations like this, when multiple tightly-held secrets suddenly all become known in short order, and how panicked fingers begin to point and deflect blame. In the case of James and his family, the discovery that the father who raised James wasn’t his biological father led to the same discovery for his three siblings as well.

James shares with us the painful details of his mother’s misplaced blame on him after the secrets of his and his siblings’ misattributed paternity came to light. He writes about how he has been able to cope and move forward in the year since he made his own unexpected paternity discovery.

CRISPR in the news - The first gene-edited babies have been born

CRISPR in the news - The first gene-edited babies have been born

The relatively-new genetic editing technology CRISPR is in the news this week.

The first report of gene-edited babies has come out, reported by a researcher in China who was trained and degreed at a university in the United States. Here’s a Slate article with more details if you haven’t heard about this breaking story yet. This Vox article gives a 101 intro to CRISPR.

CRISPR is a technology that uses a specially-designed protein with a short DNA segment attached to it to intentionally break a gene so that it doesn’t work and replace a region of DNA.