WASHINGTON (Apr. 13)
Ten couples and about 300 individuals have been identified as carriers of the Tay Sachs disease from among the approximately 7000 Jewish men and women who were recently examined in the screening programs conducted in the Washington and Baltimore areas, officials of the John F. Kennedy Institute of Johns Hopkins Hospital have disclosed.
Among the 10 “risk” couples, so called because both husbands and wives are carriers, two of the women now pregnant have been found to have normal fetuses after undergoing tests. The findings are based on screenings of about 2000 persons in the Washington area and 5000 in Baltimore. The two cities have a combined Jewish population of about 250,000.
Additional screenings are to take place Sunday in the Washington area where about 2000 are expected to take the blood tests at Temple Israel in Silver Springs, a Maryland suburb. Tests are also scheduled in other large Jewish communities in the US and Canada. The entire program is directed by Dr. Michael M. Kaback, assistant professor of pediatrics at Johns Hopkins University.
The National Capital Tay Sachs Foundation, founded and largely comprised of parents who have been victims of the disease, estimates that about 4000 unknown Jewish carriers of the disease live in the Washington area and that approximately one in 900 Jewish couples are “at risk for Tay Sachs disease to occur in their children.”
The Foundation also reports that “only when both husband and wife are carriers is the couple at risk for having a child with the disease.” It notes further that couples which have had “perfectly normal children could still be at risk for having a Tay Sachs child with a subsequent pregnancy.” However, recent medical breakthroughs make it possible for all carriers to be detected, the Foundation reports.