Before proceeding to the main issue at hand,that is,why you ought to know your genotype prior to marriage,it is relevant to understand what haemoglobin genotype is.
Blood is a liquid tissue made up of a fluid called plasma,with several blood cells suspended in it,mainly the red blood cells,white blood cells and the platelets.In this article,we will limit ourselves to the red blood cells.Red blood cells are tiny flat discs packed with haemoglobin which gives the blood its red colour and the capacity to carry oxygen.Oxygen is supplied to all parts of the body from the lungs for the use of the tissues.
There are many variants of haemoglobin,but the commonest type is haemoglobin A(it is referred to as the usual haemoglobin).The other types are referred to as UNUSUAL HAEMOGLOBIN.Examples of the unusual types are haemoglobin S(or Hb S),Hb C,and so on.Many of these haemoglobin types do not cause any health problem.A few,like Hb S can cause severe disorder to the bearer's health.
The genes carry the blueprint of life.It is the genes that dictate the colour of our skin,the shape of our nose,the type of haemoglobin,etc.The haemoglobin genotype dictates the type of haemoglobin our blood cells contain.The type of haemoglobin genotype we bear depends on what we inherit from our parents.For instance,if the father is Hb genotype AS and the mother is Hb genotype AS,the offspring would inherit either Hb A or S from the father and also Hb A or S from the mother.Only one of the pair can be inherited from the father or mother and together this form your own haemoglobin genotype.Thus,the children of this supposed couple can have Hb genotype AA,AS or SS.
As said earlier, the unusual Hb S can somettimes cause disorder to the health of the bearer.Especially when it is inherited in combination with another unusual Hb,which can be Hb S itself or any other like Hb C;the child is said to have sickle cell disorder.This is because the Hb S has the tendency of sickling the red blood cells under unfavourable conditions.By sickling I mean the red blood cells become sickle shaped instead of the usual round shape which can cause severe health disorder.
For two young people working towards marriage,it is crucial for them to know their genotype BEFORE the happy event.It is very important for them to understand what they are getting into.It is always good to make an informed decision.If a person with Hb genotype AS decides to marry someone of the same Hb genotype AS,they must understand that there is the probability of having children with Hb AA,AS or SS.The consequence of this decision is that if they have a child with Hb AS,the child is would be a carrier of unusual haemoglobin.If the child happens to be born with Hb SS,the child has sickle cell disorder and this has implications for the child and the whole family.
Some intending couples called off their marriage plans after they discovered they are both carriers of unusual haemoglobin.They felt they could not face the challenges of having a child with sickle cell disorder.That is their informed decision.
And there are those who after knowing they are both carriers of sickle cell trait(AS),they still went ahead to get married:should they be blessed with a child with sickle cell,they would give it all the love and care they could.That is their informed decision.
It is advisable for couples who intend to get married to know their genotype and seek counsel from a genetic counsellor so that whatever decision they make would be an informed one.It is better to know your genotype beforehand so that you'd be prepared for whatever comes your way than not know your genotype and get what you are not prepared for.
I have heard people say if they love the person enough and genuinely,either they are both Hb AS or one AS and the other SS,they would still get married to the person:trying to draw the line between LOVE and the menace of having a child with sickle cell.I read the story of a woman who is SS and wanted to marry a man with Hb AA at all cost to avoid having any offspring with sickle cell.She eventually got one and the marriage was blessed with children.But she got divorced after some years.Thinking?Life is full of choices.Who you are today is as a result of the choices you made yesterday.Your tomorrow depends on the choice you shall make today.
Make an Informed Decision!