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Published on February 08, 2018

DNA, genetics and healthcare

GeneFolio Test Makes “Night and Day” Difference for Mom of Two

Deep within the genomic blueprint that makes Jessica Ashton who she is, a tiny piece of information was found that led to an amazing contrast in the delivery of her two children.

When she gave birth to her eldest child, daughter Annabelle, Ashton experienced a slew of challenges, including bed rest, an emergency C-section and weeks of recovery that were mired in pain and incapacity.

When her son, Gabriel, was born, her post-delivery was much more positive. The “night and day” difference rose from a test she took, and all that change came from a single blood draw. Ashton took part in the GeneFolio® test, a genomic review that can help patients like her understand what drugs work best with her unique DNA indicators.

“The pain the first time was logical – expected even – and I wasn’t a stranger to surgery before my C-section. I had my appendix and gall bladder removed,” said Ashton, 36, who now calls Lincoln, Neb., her home. “But as I took the medication for pain, it didn’t just ‘not help’ – it seemed to make me feel worse, including the nausea that went with it.”

She eventually stopped using the pain medication and in time, she was able to move on with life. But when she and her husband, Matthew, began preparation for the birth of her second child, the memories of that long, grueling postpartum period – and all that anguish, returned.

“Dr. (Kimberlee) McKay suggested that I try a newly developed test that could perhaps help, and so I had my blood drawn and they completed the test,” she said. “I got the report back and while much of it made little sense to me, I found a part that really made me think ‘No wonder!’”

Kimberlee McKay, MD, Avera Medical Group obstetrics/gynecology specialist said that Ashton was among the first patients to use the test, and that she’s among those patients who have seen how the test can pay dividends.

“It’s an innovation that shows there are so many applications for this information, and the contrast between her two pregnancies shows there’s really something to it,” said McKay. “Our genes affect everything – including how our bodies accept pain medications – and her case is certainly one that demonstrates how DNA information can lead to a better outcome.”

The pain medication genotyping data showed that Ashton’s body did not metabolize the pain medication she was prescribed after Annabelle’s birth in the way it does in most patients.

“The first thing I did when we went in to have our second child was present the report to the anesthesia person, and I told them not to give me any of that stuff,” she said. “The report offered alternatives, and my doctors were able to put those to use.”

Unlike her first post-delivery experience, when her son was born, she was able to “do it all” – she showered, carried the baby’s car seat – everything that went with a healthy and happy new mom.

“I was unable to do anything after the first baby and it was really hard to not be able to care for yourself and your new child,” she said. “It was really hard on my husband too, and he saw for himself what a difference this test made in our lives. He was taking care of a new baby and me all at once.”

Ashton wasn’t too familiar with the test that changed everything for her second birth, but she now recommends it to anyone who may face the painful challenges she endured.

“It’s intriguing to learn about tests like GeneFolio and to equip people like me, all patients, really, with important information that can help them avoid the use of drugs that just don’t work well for them,” she said. “It equipped me with knowledge I could really use.”

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