Business 22 January 2018
When we find out that we're pregnant, we start imagining so many things. What will our child look like? How will their little personality be? What name will suit them perfectly? We have so many questions to be answered and the root of it all involves us just wanting to have a healthy baby. Nothing else matters at all.
While there are certain tests that are routine during pregnancy, they only tell us so much. So we sit and wait for nine months (typically more) until we meet our baby.
And of course, to add to our wandering minds, during our pregnancy, we're bombarded with so many inquiries about our families health and genes on both mom and dad's side - which makes our worry only worsen. It honestly would seem like nothing short of a miracle if we were able to detect genetic-related traits, so we would know exactly what this sweet baby growing inside us would inherit.
Well, this extremely advanced technology is literally at our fingertips now through a new App called BABYGlimpse and the wealth of knowledge that you are provided with is truly groundbreaking.
Photo Courtesy of ThoughtCo
The founders include Chris Glode, Co-founder & CEO, Ryan Trunck, Co-founder & VP of Engineering, and Jennifer Lescallett, Co-founder & Commercial Development - and each and every one is equally excited about the advancements that this technology brings to couples everywhere.
“When HumanCode introduced the concept of BABYGlimpse, we were immediately intrigued. It provided a unique avenue to tap into the excitement and wonder that comes along with growing a family," said Justin Kao, co-founder and SVP of Helix. “BABYGlimpse helps couples explore the bright side of genetics, creating a fun and enlightening conversation around their future."
They also shared with me, “each of the founders had different experiences that led to the creation of HumanCode and BABYGlimpse. For me, having my second child, and getting the film from our standard first-trimester ultrasound stimulated my curiosity. I immediately began using existing consumer DNA products to see if I could get a side by side view of my genetics with my wife, and project what the baby might inherit. After getting frustrated with how hard it was to do this, I got excited about the product - solving a problem that I experienced as a parent. For Jen, it's something that she had thought about for years, as a mother of three and with two decades of experience in genomics - she saw the potential for a company and product in this space. For Ryan, as a person considering starting a family, he was fascinated by the idea that genomics could provide a glimpse into what the future of his family could hold," as a group.
Photo Courtesy of Cerhvalencia
The process has been so profoundly personal to all of the creators that we can only imagine how many people will be equally intrigued by what this simple test can do and how much this knowledge will really impact couples.
It's the first DNA-powered app for couples to discover and explore the genetic-related traits their children may inherit. The new app was developed in collaboration with Helix, a personal genomics company, that recently launched the first online marketplace for DNA-powered products. Basically, it gives parents perspective through a fun and informative preview of what their baby might inherit from them. The test as a whole explores more than 20 different traits, including ancestry, physical appearance, and wellness-related conditions.
How does it work? Through single at-home collection kits that require a simple saliva sample from both parents. “The at-home collection kits contain instructions, and a small plastic vial to collect the saliva sample. It takes about 5 minutes to provide the sample and register the kit, and then the customer simply pops it in the mail in the prepaid return package included," the founders shared with me.
The sample is then processed in Helix's CLIA- and CAP-accredited next-generation sequencing lab. The results are securely stored and they provide HumanCode access to the portion of the genome that pertains to the information delivered in BABYGlimpse. The app then utilizes a proprietary computational method to combine the couple's DNA results and make predictions on the possible traits of their future child. The results are delivered to couples through the BABYGlimpse app for iPhone, or via a secure customer web portal.
Photo Courtesy of TheTrentOnline
“We built BABYGlimpse as an inspiring and optimistic way for two people to understand their own genetics, and what they might pass on to their offspring," said Chris Glode, CEO of HumanCode. “Today's couples have so many questions and curiosities during the process of creating a family—there's so much advice and information, but little of it is personal to them. We want to help families venture beyond the classic black-and-white ultrasound photo and gender reveal to learn more about themselves and their genetics. BABYGlimpse adds to the excitement and anticipation of building a family. We call it 'sunshine science'."
Having just had a baby a year ago myself I was beyond curious to see if this might be something that would end up as a regular part of our prenatal care in the United States. Having so many different curiosities about that sweet little babe growing inside, it really would be something that put so many parents mind's at ease - especially when it comes to all those wellness related traits. “Given that it's not a medical test, in it's current state, probably not. We are open to the idea that it could eventually be included as a fun and informative companion experience to some of the medically diagnostic tests, but we don't want customers, physicians, or genetic counselors to be perceiving BABYGlimpse as something that is intended to be a medical test. It's really designed to be a fun, sharable, informative and educational experience. We don't test for any genetic disorders and don't currently have plans to," the team informed me.
If you're looking to get your hands on the BABYGlimpse, it is available for $349.98 on Helix.com, and includes Exome + DNA sequencing for two people and unlimited access to the application on the secure HumanCode website or iPhone app.
For decades, women have been unknowingly suffering from PSD and intergenerational trauma, but now Dr. Valerie Rein wants women to reclaim their power through mind, body and healing tools.
As women, no matter how many accomplishments we have or how successful we look on the outside, we all occasionally hear that nagging internal voice telling us to do more. We criticize ourselves more than anyone else and then throw ourselves into the never-ending cycle of self-care, all in effort to save ourselves from crashing into this invisible internal wall. According to psychologist, entrepreneur and author, Dr. Valerie Rein, these feelings are not your fault and there is nothing wrong with you— but chances are you definitely suffering from Patriarchy Stress Disorder.
Patriarchy Stress Disorder (PSD) is defined as the collective inherited trauma of oppression that forms an invisible inner barrier to women's happiness and fulfillment. The term was coined by Rein who discovered a missing link between trauma and the effects that patriarchal power structures have had on certain groups of people all throughout history up until the present day. Her life experience, in addition to research, have led Rein to develop a deeper understanding of the ways in which men and women are experiencing symptoms of trauma and stress that have been genetically passed down from previously oppressed generations.
What makes the discovery of this disorder significant is that it provides women with an answer to the stresses and trauma we feel but cannot explain or overcome. After being admitted to the ER with stroke-like symptoms one afternoon, when Rein noticed the left side of her body and face going numb, she was baffled to learn from her doctors that the results of her tests revealed that her stroke-like symptoms were caused by stress. Rein was then left to figure out what exactly she did for her clients in order for them to be able to step into the fullness of themselves that she was unable to do for herself. "What started seeping through the tears was the realization that I checked all the boxes that society told me I needed to feel happy and fulfilled, but I didn't feel happy or fulfilled and I didn't feel unhappy either. I didn't feel much of anything at all, not even stress," she stated.
Photo Courtesy of Dr. Valerie Rein
This raised the question for Rein as to what sort of hidden traumas women are suppressing without having any awareness of its presence. In her evaluation of her healing methodology, Rein realized that she was using mind, body and trauma healing tools with her clients because, while they had never experienced a traumatic event, they were showing the tell-tale symptoms of trauma which are described as a disconnect from parts of ourselves, body and emotions. In addition to her personal evaluation, research at the time had revealed that traumatic experiences are, in fact, passed down genetically throughout generations. This was Rein's lightbulb moment. The answer to a very real problem that she, and all women, have been experiencing is intergenerational trauma as a result of oppression formed under the patriarchy.
Although Rein's discovery would undoubtably change the way women experience and understand stress, it was crucial that she first broaden the definition of trauma not with the intention of catering to PSD, but to better identify the ways in which trauma presents itself in the current generation. When studying psychology from the books and diagnostic manuals written exclusively by white men, trauma was narrowly defined as a life-threatening experience. By that definition, not many people fit the bill despite showing trauma-like symptoms such as disconnections from parts of their body, emotions and self-expression. However, as the field of psychology has expanded, more voices have been joining the conversations and expanding the definition of trauma based on their lived experience. "I have broadened the definition to say that any experience that makes us feel unsafe psychically or emotionally can be traumatic," stated Rein. By redefining trauma, people across the gender spectrum are able to find validation in their experiences and begin their journey to healing these traumas not just for ourselves, but for future generations.
While PSD is not experienced by one particular gender, as women who have been one of the most historically disadvantaged and oppressed groups, we have inherited survival instructions that express themselves differently for different women. For some women, this means their nervous systems freeze when faced with something that has been historically dangerous for women such as stepping into their power, speaking out, being visible or making a lot of money. Then there are women who go into fight or flight mode. Although they are able to stand in the spotlight, they pay a high price for it when their nervous system begins to work in a constant state of hyper vigilance in order to keep them safe. These women often find themselves having trouble with anxiety, intimacy, sleeping or relaxing without a glass of wine or a pill. Because of this, adrenaline fatigue has become an epidemic among high achieving women that is resulting in heightened levels of stress and anxiety.
"For the first time, it makes sense that we are not broken or making this up, and we have gained this understanding by looking through the lens of a shared trauma. All of these things have been either forbidden or impossible for women. A woman's power has always been a punishable offense throughout history," stated Rein.
Although the idea of having a disorder may be scary to some and even potentially contribute to a victim mentality, Rein wants people to be empowered by PSD and to see it as a diagnosis meant to validate your experience by giving it a name, making it real and giving you a means to heal yourself. "There are still experiences in our lives that are triggering PSD and the more layers we heal, the more power we claim, the more resilience we have and more ability we have in staying plugged into our power and happiness. These triggers affect us less and less the more we heal," emphasized Rein. While the task of breaking intergenerational transmission of trauma seems intimidating, the author has flipped the negative approach to the healing journey from a game of survival to the game of how good can it get.
In her new book, Patriarchy Stress Disorder: The Invisible Barrier to Women's Happiness and Fulfillment, Rein details an easy system for healing that includes the necessary tools she has sourced over 20 years on her healing exploration with the pioneers of mind, body and trauma resolution. Her 5-step system serves to help "Jailbreakers" escape the inner prison of PSD and other hidden trauma through the process of Waking Up in Prison, Meeting the Prison Guards, Turning the Prison Guards into Body Guards, Digging the Tunnel to Freedom and Savoring Freedom. Readers can also find free tools on Rein's website to help aid in their healing journey and exploration.
"I think of the book coming out as the birth of a movement. Healing is not women against men– it's women, men and people across the gender spectrum, coming together in a shared understanding that we all have trauma and we can all heal."