I chose to do this post on Tay Sachs and about how it is so prevalent in the Ashkenazim Jewish population, which means European Jewish individuals. The reason I chose this was because my ancestors were Jewish and from Europe, so there is a chance that I could be carrying this gene without realizing it, though chances are slim, since no one in my extended, nor immediate family has this disease.
Tay-Sachs is a disease that is the result of a genetic mutation; it is fatal and affects the central nervous system. It is the result of the HEXA gene, located on chromosome 15; what occurs is that children have the deficiency of the enzyme, Hex X. When this occurs, a fatty substance accumulates in in nerve cells of the brain.
There are two different kinds of this; infantile tay-sachs disease and late onset of tay-sachs disease. Infantile Tay-Sachs starts to show signs when the infant is around six months old; by age two, most children with this condition have seizures and decreasing mental state. This is fatal and death happens between the ages of five and eight years.
Late onset of Tay-Sachs disease, otherwise known as Chronic GM2-Gangliosidosis. Onset of this second form usually during adolescence, but has the ability to occur during prepubescence as well. Symptoms associated with this are tremors, slurred speech, and poor coordination.
Currently, there is no treatment for Tay-Sachs, health care professions are only able to help the patient with their reoccurring symptoms.Blood tests are the only way to test to see if a fetus has the disorder.
The only reason race plays a role, with regards to Tay-Sachs and Jewish individuals, is due to the fact that this specific disease only affects the European Jewish population, which is primarily composed of individuals who are Caucasian. An example of race playing a role with disease, is this one, or when you look at the prevalence of African Americans that have Sickle Cell Disease. Individually, your health doesn’t play a role in a person getting Tay-Sachs, since you can only get it from your genetics, not from the lifestyle that you lead. An example of this could include heart disease, which you can obtain from having poor diet and no exercise. Lastly, genetics plays a prominent role in this disease, because you can only get it if you inherit it from your parents. Another example of genetics playing a role in disease, could be considered color blindness, or certain forms of cancers such as breast cancer.