Monday, April 28, 2008

Thanks(?) for the Gene, Dad

In the last Carnival of Genealogy challenge, we were asked to describe what traits we inherited from our ancestors. I tried to be respectful of my kin and mention only positive or innocuous hand-me-downs, but I forgot an important one. I'm only mentioning it now in case it helps enlighten someone who wonders if he/she might have the same problem.

It's been a long haul toward discovery, but someone gave me the gene for gluten intolerance, and I'm not too darned happy about it. Do you know how difficult it is to be a Norwegian-American who shouldn't eat lefse, krumkake, and all those baked goodies? Each time I visit a relative who is trying hard to be welcoming, I worry about offending if I don't accept those wonderful homemade doughnuts, and more.

The website contains a very good article on new research:

Gene From Father May Raise Celiac Risk in Daughters

Do your chances of developing celiac disease vary depending on which parent is passing on the genes? A new study says yes. According to the results of a recent study, depending on whether the gene is inherited from the father or the mother, and depending on the gender of the child, data suggest that there could be some variance in rates at which the gene is inherited, along with some variance in the rates of celiac disease [...] Celiac disease occurs twice as often in women as it does in men [...] A research team evaluated and compared the odds ratio, parental origin of disease-associated haplotypes, and transmission ratio distortion between male and female patients.

To make a long story short, if a father passes down the DQ2 haplotype to his children, then his daughters are more likely to develope celiac disease than his sons.

But, they say turn about is fair play. Isn't it the mother who passes along the gene for baldness to her sons??? At least I don't have to worry about that.

Celiac disease and gluten intolerance (one is clinically diagnosed and the other is not, but they both lead to the same fork in the road) are more prevalent than you think, because the problem often flies under the radar of physicians, even when patients sound like an alien has taken over their body. The problem starts off with a vague feeling of unwellness, and may include digestive problems, and weight loss or weight gain, among other symptoms.

Here's a great article full of information: Maybe It's Something You Ate.

If you think you, too, have inherited this predisposition, you might get lucky and get a confirmation from your doctor. Otherwise, I'm afraid you're in for a lot of reading and experimentation with what you eat. There is support out there, but it is still hard to avoid all the "don'ts" with today's busy lifestyle, and not always so easy to focus on the "dos" with a positive attitude.

I believe I've had gluten intolerance all of my life. But, it has only been within the past ten years or so that my body has finally called a halt to all this nonsense (gluten eating) and has started to get back at me, with ever increasing persistence.

But, it's okay: I forgive you, Dad (except maybe when it comes to pizza). Life is a series of challenges, and this is just one more to keep me grounded in family history.

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