Thursday, July 22, 2010
The genetic effects of having related parents

By Dr. Anthony Policastro

There is a medical term called consanguinity, which refers to children who are born of related parents. This is a medical issue because of related genetic conditions. Everyone has thousands of genes on their chromosomes. Each of these genes has a specific action. Some are obvious; hair color and eye color are good examples. Others only show up in the body's metabolism. Some genes are inherited as dominant traits. Thus, if the parent has it, the child will have it. Other genes are inherited as recessive traits which means that the child can inherit it from the parent but not show it. The reason for this is that every gene comes in a pair. If an individual has one normal and one abnormal gene, they will be fine if the abnormal gene is recessive and hidden. Recessive genes are only a problem when both members of the pair are abnormal. In these instances that means that both parents had the abnormal gene and they each gave it to the child. Since the parents each had one normal and one abnormal gene, they were fine. However, the child has two abnormal genes and will then have whatever disease is caused by the abnormal genes. It is estimated that each of us has 15 to 20 abnormal recessive genes that can cause serious problems. However, since those tend to be 15 to 20 different genes in most people, there is usually not a problem. It becomes more of an issue when individuals are related because they share so many genes. For example, first degree relatives like parents and children or siblings share half of the same genes which means that they each have about 8 to 10 of the genes that cause these serious problems. One out of four children of such relationships will have two abnormal genes (one from each parent). One out of four will have two normal genes (one from each parent). One of four will have a normal gene from the father and an abnormal gene from the mother. One out of four will have a normal gene from the mother and an abnormal gene from the father. Thus three out of four will have no problem. The fourth will have a problem because it represents the only one in which there are two abnormal genes present. If there are 8 to 10 abnormal genes in common in close relatives and one out of four of them will show up, that means that children of such relationships are likely to have two of these abnormal genes. For first cousins about 25% of the genes are common. Thus they would have about four of the abnormal genes in common. Their children would likely have one of these abnormal genes. For second cousins about 12% of the genes are common. Thus they would have about two abnormal genes in common. Their children would have about a 50/50 chance of having an abnormal gene. Even more distant relatives will have some of those genes in common. Third cousins would be at 6%, fourth cousins at 3%, fifth cousins at 1.5% and so on. That is why it is important to know about that when giving a family history to the pediatrician. Some of the abnormal conditions are lethal. They result in miscarriages. Others result in serious metabolic illnesses and major birth defects. Thus the children of such relationships have a high likelihood of serious problems. This is why asking about whether there is any consanguinity (no matter how distant) becomes an important part of medical evaluations.

Dr. Athar joins NMH Nanticoke Memorial Hospital welcomes Dr. Muhammad N. Athar to its active medical staff. Dr. Athar specializes in Pulmonary Critical Care Medicine and is accepting new patients at 24488 Sussex Hwy., Suite 2, Seaford. Dr. Athar completed his residency at Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia, Pa.He completed fellowships at The Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, N.Y. and Hahnemann University Hospital in Philadelphia. Dr. Athar has published medical studies extensively since 2001. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Athar, call 629-5766.

Nanticoke welcomes physicians Nanticoke Health Services announces that Dr. Joaquin Cabrera has joined Nanticoke Health Services as a member of the Nanticoke Physician Network. Dr. Cabrera has been a part of Nanticoke Health Services' active medical staff for over 20 years. As a physician with Nanticoke

Women's Health Services (NWHS), Dr. Cabrera, along with fellow physicians, Dr. Ian Baxter and Dr. Abha Gupta, will continue to improve patient access to quality physicians. Dr. Cabrera's patients can continue to expect the same high quality, personal care they have always received. Nanticoke also welcomes Rashida Randeree, D.O., M.S., B.A. to Nanticoke Women's Health Services.She is Board Certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology and is a member of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the American Medical Association. Dr. Randeree is joining Dr. Cabrera's office and is accepting new patients at 8472 Herring Run Rd., Seaford. To schedule an appointment, call 629-8977.

NHS awards scholarships Nanticoke Health Services recently presented three of six scholarships to local high school graduates residing in Western Sussex County. All scholarship recipients plan to enter the healthcare field. The three recipients are Amber Dukes, Laurel High School graduate, Jenna Wills, Seaford High School graduate and Kelli Warner, Woodbridge High School graduate. Dukes will attend Delaware Technical & Community College to pursue a degree in nursing. Wills will attend York College of Pennsylvania and is working towards becoming a pediatric nurse practitioner. Warner will attend West Chester University to pursue a degree in speech language pathology. Wills and Warner both successfully completed the Health Career Internship program at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital, which is intended to provide exposure to a healthcare environment for students considering health related careers. The class integrates classroom activities with real workplace experiences during rotations to various health career areas of the hospital.

Healthy recipes contest Nanticoke Memorial Hospital and the Western Sussex Farmers Market are looking for your heart healthy recipes that use local seasonal produce. Submit your heart healthy recipes for a chance to win. On Saturday, Aug. 21 at 10 a.m., three entries will be prepared and shared at the Western Sussex Farmers Market (located at the Western Sussex Boys & Girls Club) and will win a Nanticoke Memorial Hospital gift basket. Each recipe must: 1.Be your own original creation and not based on any other published recipe. 2.Include a list of all required ingredients including measured amounts (teaspoons, tablespoons, cups, etc.) 3.Include preparation and cooking instructions including cooking times and temperatures. 4.Include the number of servings per recipe. 5.Include at least one selection of local fresh seasonal produce. 6.Be a recipe easily reproducible by others. All recipes will be evaluated on originality, use of seasonal produce, being "heart healthy," texture, visual appearance and taste. Submission deadline is July 31. For complete contest rules, e-mail, visit, or call 629-6611, ext. 8948.

Cancer support group at Nanticoke The Wellness Community-Delaware offers a General Cancer support group for people affected by cancer and their loved ones at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital in Seaford. The support group meets in the second floor conference room of the Cancer Care center on the third Monday of each month from 4:30 to 6 p.m. The next meeting is July 19. The Wellness Community is dedicated to helping people affected by cancer enhance their health and well-being through participation in a professional program of emotional support and hope. Facilitators are trained mental health professionals with a master's degree or more. For more information or to register, call 645-9150. All support groups are free of charge. This program is made possible by the support of the Nanticoke Memorial Hospital in Seaford. For more information, visit

Bereavement support group Compassionate Care Hospice, The Wellness Community-DE and Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will collaborate to present a monthly bereavement group, The Next Step. The group focuses on issues of loss that continue beyond the early stages of grief. Mary Van House, bereavement coordinator, will facilitate the group at 10 a.m. on the third Tuesday of each month, at the Nanticoke Cancer Care Center, second floor conference room. To register, call Lisa at 629-6611, ext. 2378.