Tuesday, January 17, 2017

MTHFR Genetic Testing


On our journey to help our oldest son strengthen his self-regulation and impulse control, we met with a psychiatrist so she could test him for a genetic mutation that makes it difficult for the body to process folic acid. The gene is called MTHFR. If there's a mutation, the body's production of key hormones (like serotonin and dopamine) can be affected and can lead to anxiety, depression, ADHD symptoms, etc. 

She explained that Europe and Canada have been testing for this mutation for a lot longer than the U.S. (no surprise there), but that it was recently added to the list of genetic tests that get done at birth in the U.S. If there's a slight mutation, the treatment can be as simple as a prescription for extra folate. 

I was shocked to hear that there's potentially a biological reason for anxiety/depression/ADHD that is so easily addressed. I feel like I want to shout this information from the rooftops! The issue is genetic, so it's especially important for people to get tested if their families have any of these kinds of issues. Our family tree includes depression and addiction, so this issue is very relevant for us. 

The test was a simple finger prick, and the results will come back in a couple of weeks. I'll keep you updated about what we find out! 



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8 comments:

Katey said...

A friend's child has this or a similar mutation, and it's been instrumental in getting her where she needs to be emotionally. I hope you all get some answers soon!

Cali Cole said...

VERY interesting. Please keep us posted.

Kate said...

Great info! Do you know if there is there an age at which they would no longer prescribe folate in favor of the traditional pharmaceutical treatments?

Sara E. Cotner said...

Hi, Kate! There are two different alleles that can be affected: one is serious and the other is less serious. I think it's the less serious one that results in a simple L-methalfolate prescription. It's all a little confusing to me!

Summerofsilence.wordpress.com said...

I am so intersted to hear back on your results. We have these conditions in the history of our family, I have anxiety and my 4.5 year old has, what I am starting to think, is a distinguished hard time regulating his emotions (rather than the normal hard of being a preschooler!) I look forward to knowing what you learn.

Also, props on the food allergies topic. My youngest has graves disease and bc of that we have a host of food restrictions that come with treating that holistically. Combine that with our personal convictions (gluten-light and paleo-heavy) and I am often left wondering, "What in the world do I feed these kids!" So well done searching for answers on how to provide you kids optimal health. You are a good mama!

Sara E. Cotner said...

Thanks, summerofsilence! It's actually not as hard as I thought it would be...

But we do have our first birthday party this weekend! I'm going to bring along homemade pizza (gluten- and dairy-free crust, sauce, turkey pepperoni), some puffs, and vegan/gluten-free cupcakes from a bakery. Oy!

tatgeer said...

I saw your follow-up post, so nice to hear that you're getting some answers! Did the pediatrician do the test, or someone else? I'm wondering if I should look into this for my little guy.
Thanks!

Sara E. Cotner said...

Hi, Tatgeer! A psychiatrist did it for us. Best of luck to you and your family!

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