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This Groundbreaking App Gives Couples A DNA-Based Glimpse Into Their Future Children

Business

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.

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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.

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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.

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“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.

3 Min Read
Health

7 Must-have Tips to Keep You Healthy and Fit for the Unpredictable COVID Future

With a lack of certainty surrounding the future, being and feeling healthy may help bring the security that you need during these unpredictable times.

When it comes to your health, there is a direct relationship between nutrition and physical activity that play an enormous part in physical, mental, and social well-being. As COVID-19 continues to impact almost every aspect of our lives, the uncertainty of the future may seem looming. Sometimes improvisation is necessary, and understanding how to stay healthy and fit can significantly help you manage your well-being during these times.

Tip 1: Communicate with your current wellness providers and set a plan

Gyms, group fitness studios, trainers, and professionals can help you to lay out a plan that will either keep you on track through all of the changes and restrictions or help you to get back on the ball so that all of your health objectives are met.

Most facilities and providers are setting plans to provide for their clients and customers to accommodate the unpredictable future. The key to remaining consistent is to have solid plans in place. This means setting a plan A, plan B, and perhaps even a plan C. An enormous amount is on the table for this coming fall and winter; if your gym closes again, what is your plan? If outdoor exercising is not an option due to the weather, what is your plan? Leaving things to chance will significantly increase your chances of falling off of your regimen and will make consistency a big problem.

The key to remaining consistent is to have solid plans in place. This means setting a plan A, plan B, and perhaps even a plan C.

Tip 2: Stay active for both mental and physical health benefits

The rise of stress and anxiety as a result of the uncertainty around COVID-19 has affected everyone in some way. Staying active by exercising helps alleviate stress by releasing chemicals like serotonin and endorphins in your brain. In turn, these released chemicals can help improve your mood and even reduce risk of depression and cognitive decline. Additionally, physical activity can help boost your immune system and provide long term health benefits.

With the new work-from-home norm, it can be easy to bypass how much time you are spending sedentary. Be aware of your sitting time and balance it with activity. Struggling to find ways to stay active? Start simple with activities like going for a walk outside, doing a few reps in exchange for extra Netflix time, or even setting an alarm to move during your workday.

Tip 3: Start slow and strong

If you, like many others during the pandemic shift, have taken some time off of your normal fitness routine, don't push yourself to dive in head first, as this may lead to burnout, injury, and soreness. Plan to start at 50 percent of the volume and intensity of prior workouts when you return to the gym. Inactivity eats away at muscle mass, so rather than focusing on cardio, head to the weights or resistance bands and work on rebuilding your strength.

Be aware of your sitting time and balance it with activity.

Tip 4: If your gym is open, prepare to sanitize

In a study published earlier this year, researchers found drug-resistant bacteria, the flu virus, and other pathogens on about 25 percent of the surfaces they tested in multiple athletic training facilities. Even with heightened gym cleaning procedures in place for many facilities, if you are returning to the gym, ensuring that you disinfect any surfaces before and after using them is key.

When spraying disinfectant, wait a few minutes to kill the germs before wiping down the equipment. Also, don't forget to wash your hands frequently. In an enclosed space where many people are breathing heavier than usual, this can allow for a possible increase in virus droplets, so make sure to wear a mask and practice social distancing. Staying in the know and preparing for new gym policies will make it easy to return to these types of facilities as protocols and mutual respect can be agreed upon.

Tip 5: Have a good routine that extends outside of just your fitness

From work to working out, many routines have faltered during the COVID pandemic. If getting back into the routine seems daunting, investing in a new exercise machine, trainer, or small gadget can help to motivate you. Whether it's a larger investment such as a Peloton, a smaller device such as a Fitbit, or simply a great trainer, something new and fresh is always a great stimulus and motivator.

Make sure that when you do wake up well-rested, you are getting out of your pajamas and starting your day with a morning routine.

Just because you are working from home with a computer available 24/7 doesn't mean you have to sacrifice your entire day to work. Setting work hours, just as you would in the office, can help you to stay focused and productive.

A good night's sleep is also integral to obtaining and maintaining a healthy and effective routine. Adults need seven or more hours of sleep per night for their best health and wellbeing, so prioritizing your sleep schedule can drastically improve your day and is an important factor to staying healthy. Make sure that when you do wake up well-rested, you are getting out of your pajamas and starting your day with a morning routine. This can help the rest of your day feel normal while the uncertainty of working from home continues.

Tip 6: Focus on food and nutrition

In addition to having a well-rounded daily routine, eating at scheduled times throughout the day can help decrease poor food choices and unhealthy cravings. Understanding the nutrients that your body needs to stay healthy can help you stay more alert, but they do vary from person to person. If you are unsure of your suggested nutritional intake, check out a nutrition calculator.

If you are someone that prefers smaller meals and more snacks throughout the day, make sure you have plenty of healthy options, like fruits, vegetables and lean proteins available (an apple a day keeps the hospital away). While you may spend most of your time from home, meal prepping and planning can make your day flow easier without having to take a break to make an entire meal in the middle of your work day. Most importantly, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.

Tip 7: Don't forget about your mental health

While focusing on daily habits and routines to improve your physical health is important, it is also a great time to turn inward and check in with yourself. Perhaps your anxiety has increased and it's impacting your work or day-to-day life. Determining the cause and taking proactive steps toward mitigating these occurrences are important.

For example, with the increase in handwashing, this can also be a great time to practice mini meditation sessions by focusing on taking deep breaths. This can reduce anxiety and even lower your blood pressure. Keeping a journal and writing out your daily thoughts or worries can also help manage stress during unpredictable times, too.

While the future of COVI9-19 and our lives may be unpredictable, you can manage your personal uncertainties by focusing on improving the lifestyle factors you can control—from staying active to having a routine and focusing on your mental health—to make sure that you emerge from this pandemic as your same old self or maybe even better.