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Am I At Risk?

Are you at risk of having a child with Canavan disease?

Anyone is at some risk of having a child with Canavan disease, but if you have Jewish ancestry, or anyone in your family had a child with Canavan disease, you may be at higher risk for Canavan disease than the general population. 

How many people are carriers of the Canavan gene?

It is estimated that 1 in 40 persons of Ashkenazi Jewish heritage is a carrier of Canavan disease. A carrier will show no symptoms of the disease and may have no known family history of the disease, but can pass it along to his or her children.   Two carrier parents have a 1 in 4 chance – with each pregnancy – of having a child affected with Canavan disease.

If you are at risk, what can you do?

Find out your carrier status by getting screened before you become pregnant, and use that information to have healthy children. There are options for carrier couples to build healthy families, which can be explained in detail by a genetic counselor. We encourage you to watch the videos on the site to learn more about the screening process, the options available for carrier couples, and the impact Canavan disease can have on an affected family

How can you help others avoid Canavan disease?

Educate yourself about Canavan disease and about screening, spread the word to others, and support the work of the Canavan Foundation.  Anyone of Jewish heritage is also at risk for other genetic diseases and should speak to a doctor or genetic counselor to sort through the screening options available. And if you find out you're a carrier, tell your family and recommend that they also seek screening.