Each chromosome also carries along its length tiny organs called genes. These are the heredity bearing elements. That’s why many children later have characteristics similar to those of their parents—and in some cases, those of grandparents.Actually, in recent years, by an ingenious scientific skill called ‘gene mapping’, many of the heredity characteristics can be accurately located. Today, by a delicate microscopic system called chromosomal banding, it is possible to isolate each pair of chromosomes in the cells. These may be numbered accurately, from 1 to 22 (plus the X and Y sex fellows).Each gene on each chromosome has a certain position, or home, called its locus. It is believed that about 50000 of these loci exist. Already, about 1200 of them have been identified and pinpointed. For example, if is known where the ABO blood group (actor Is located, where the Rh factor is situated, plus many more. Of course, an enormous amount of work has vet to W done, but the future is promising.So what; you may ask. In the fullness of lime—probably in the year 2000 or after (bin maybe a lot sooner)— doctors will he able to tell an enormous amount about the baby inside a pregnant woman, simply by examining some of its cells under special microscopes.These cells are obtained by a technique called amniocentesis. A needle is placed through the woman’s abdomen into the uterus. It withdraws some of the amniotic fluid in which baby is swimming before birth. Many of the baby’s cells are present in this fluid; and they can be readily examined by experts specially trained in (his field-It may be possible to detect many inherited factors. Some scientists even believe mat a person’s tendency to diabetes, heart disease and even cancer may be picked up months before birth. Also, some even believe that prospective criminals may also be detected. Of course, they are not criminals before birth, but certain research suggests that chromosomal patterns indicate specific characteristics in those who follow a life of crime.So what then? Already amniocentesis can reveal the presence of certain chemicals, such as one called alpha-feto-protein. This indicates a serious brain and nervous system disorder with the infant, rarefy compatible with normal life. Also, chromosomal patterns indicate if the baby is likely to be born with Down’s syndrome, and probably become mentally defective. Other serious anomalies may also be prenatally diagnosed.The parents are then offered the choice of continuing with the pregnancy, or of undergoing what is now called a legal termination. That means the pregnancy is brought to an end— months before bub is born. This method, rightly or wrongly, can offer the parent a way out from having a defective infant which could only cause heartache and heartbreak for many years ahead.To many would-be mothers, this may seem repugnant. But to many others, especially those already burdened with a defective child, it offers hope for the future and a happy way out from further unnecessary misery.In the same way, the principle of gene mapping and of predetermining the probable health future of the baby-to-be, plus selective terminations, may greatly enhance the quality of the family. To be sure, preselection to this extent has not yet arrived. But mark my words, it is a fairly definite probability for the future.Now let’s get back to the fertilised egg. He, she or it (take your pick) is still sitting mid-way along the Fallopian tube, or oviduct, having just met up with a friendly sperm.*18\45\4*

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This entry was posted on Sunday, July 3rd, 2011 at 9:13 am and is filed under Women's Health. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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