Introduction:

It is recommended to have genetic testing performed before becoming pregnant; the testing is mostly done through blood tests
The purpose of the genetic testing is to identify if a couple is at high risk for having a child with a genetic disease
For more information, see the Ministry of Health's English website
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Pre-pregnancy genetic testing is intended to identify couples at high risk of having children with severe genetic diseases.

  • The purpose of a genetic screening based on family background is to try and identify couples at exceptionally high risk and provide them with genetic counseling.
  • Some screenings are performed in order to identify carriers of certain genes, even if there is no history of the disease in the family. Some examples include: Cystic fibrosis and Fragile X.
  • Testing for other genetic diseases is based on each couple's family origins, with consideration given to how common and severe each disease is.
  • Some of the tests are included in the Ministry of Health's healthcare services basket and are provided at no cost, while others are only covered partially by supplementary insurance.
  • It is preferable to perform the testing before pregnancy, but it is also possible to have it performed at the beginning of pregnancy.

Who is Eligible?

  • Everyone covered by health insurance is eligible to receive the tests included in the healthcare services basket at no cost.
  • For tests not included in the basket, each health plan has different procedures and co-payment amounts depending on the policyholder's plan and level.

How to Claim It?

  • Contact a facility approved by the Ministry of Health to perform genetic testing. Click here for an English listing of the facilities on the Ministry of Health website.
  • A referral from a doctor is not necessary for the tests included in the basket.
  • Those with supplementary insurance should contact their health plan to get details regarding payment, and to find locations where tests not included in the basket may be performed.

Genetic Testing Included in the Healthcare Basket Provided at No Cost

  • The testing depends on the family origins of the parents. Parents belonging to a high risk group are eligible to receive testing at no cost according to the following:

Genetic Testing at No Cost for All Populations

  • Testing for the following diseases is provided at no cost for all populations:
    • Cystic Fibrosis (CF)
    • Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) - Risk for an ill child only exists when both parents are carriers of the gene.
    • Fragile X Syndrome - The most common cause, of all known genetic causes, for inherited intellectual disability. The syndrome may be expressed in various ways including communication disorders and autism. Even if just one chromosome carries an abnormal gene in one of the parents, there may be signs of the disorder in either male or female offspring.

Genetic Testing at No Cost for Ashkenazi Jews

  • Testing for the following diseases is provided at no cost for Ashkenazi Jews:
    • Tay-Sachs disease - An incurable disease caused by a specific enzyme deficiency, which results in death. The risk for an affected child only exists when both parents are carriers of the abnormal gene.
    • Familial Dysautonomia (FD)
    • Canavan disease - A degenerative brain disease, which results in death. The risk for an affected child only exists when both parents are carriers of the abnormal gene.

Genetic Testing at No Cost for North African Jews

  • Testing for the following diseases is provided at no cost for North African Jews:
    • Beta thalassemia - A disease that affects the production of hemoglobin in the body. The risk for an affected child only exists when both parents are carriers of the abnormal gene.
    • Tay-Sachs disease - An incurable disease caused by a specific enzyme deficiency, which results in death. The risk for an affected child only exists when both parents are carriers of the abnormal gene.
    • Progressive cerebral and cerebellar atrophy (Progressive cerebellocerebral atrophy) - The disease is expressed by intellectual disability, a small head circumference (microcephaly), increased muscle tone (rigidity) and sometimes decreasing size, with no options for treatment. The risk for an affected child only exists when both parents are carriers of the abnormal gene.

Genetic Testing at No Cost for Yemenite Jews

  • Testing for the following disease is provided at no cost for Yemenite Jews:
    • Metachromatic Leukodystrophy (MLD) - A degenerative brain disease that appears around the age of one and generally results in death at a young age. The risk for an affected child only exists when both parents are carriers of the abnormal gene.

Genetic Testing at No Cost for Iraqi Jews

  • Testing for the following diseases is provided at no cost for Iraqi Jews:
    • Beta thalassemia - A disease that affects the production of hemoglobin in the body. The risk for an affected child only exists when both parents are carriers of the abnormal gene.
    • Costeff syndrome - A syndrome that causes reduced vision and neurological indications (intellectual disability). The risk for an affected child only exists when both parents are carriers of the abnormal gene.
    • Progressive cerebral and cerebellar atrophy (Progressive cerebellocerebral atrophy) - The disease is expressed by intellectual disability, a small head circumference (microcephaly), increased muscle tone (rigidity) and sometimes decreasing size, with no options for treatment. The risk for an affected child only exists when both parents are carriers of the abnormal gene.

Genetic Testing at No Cost for Persian Jews

  • Testing for the following diseases is provided at no cost for Persian Jews:
    • Beta thalassemia - A disease that affects the production of hemoglobin in the body. The risk for an affected child only exists when both parents are carriers of the abnormal gene.
    • Usher syndrome - A syndrome marked by a combination of hearing impairment and an eye disorder that can ultimately lead to profound hearing impairment and blindness. The risk for an affected child only exists when both parents are carriers of the abnormal gene.

Genetic Testing at No Cost for Mediterranean and Kurdish Jews

  • Testing for the following diseases is provided at no cost for Mediterranean and Kurdish Jews:
    • Beta thalassemia - A disease that affects the production of hemoglobin in the body. The risk for an affected child only exists when both parents are carriers of the abnormal gene.

Genetic Testing at No Cost for Balkan Jews

Genetic Testing at No Cost for Caucasian Jews

  • Testing for the following diseases is provided at no cost for Caucasian Jews:
    • Infantile Cerebral Cerebellar Atrophy (MED 17) - A disease that causes eating problems during the first year of life followed by a neurological disorder and in many cases severe intellectual disability. The risk for an affected child only exists when both parents are carriers of the abnormal gene.

Genetic Testing at No Cost for Arabs and Druze (Not Including Bedouins from the Negev)

  • Testing for the following diseases is provided at no cost for Arabs and Druze (not including Bedouins from the Negev):
    • Beta thalassemia - A disease that affects the production of hemoglobin in the body. The risk for an affected child only exists when both parents are carriers of the abnormal gene.
    • Click here for a comprehensive listing of tests on the Ministry of Health website.

Genetic Testing at No Cost for Bedouins from the Negev Region

  • Testing for the following diseases is provided at no cost for Bedouins from the Negev Region:
    • Click here for a comprehensive listing of tests on the Ministry of Health website.

Genetic Testing Performed as Part of Supplementary Insurance

  • The health plans provide some funding towards genetic testing not included in the healthcare basket.
  • There are differences between the health plans, so those who are interested in being tested should contact their health plan for details.
  • Clalit Health Services:
  • Maccabi Healthcare Services:
  • Rights for Maccabi policyholders
  • The genetic tests appearing on the list may only be performed if there is a recommendation from the special genetic disease software used by the laboratory technicians.
  • Couples being tested provide technicians with demographic and family information, which determine the tests to be performed.
  • Co-payment amounts are determined according to the tests that are determined.
  • Appointments for testing should be made through the "Maccabi Nonstop" Call Center (*3555).
  • Leumit Health Fund:
  • Leumit policyholders are entitled to undergo genetic testing without medical indicators and with the relevant co-payment. Click here for more information about genetic testing on the Leumit website.
  • Meuhedet Health Services:
  • Meuhedet Adif policyholders are entitled to perform one or more genetic tests from the listing of tests once.
  • The testing is performed in a public hospital or in a facility with which the health plan has special arrangements, on the condition that there is a recommendation from a health plan doctor specializing in genetics.
  • For more information, see page 36 of the Meuhedet Adif leaflet which can be viewed by clicking here.

Please Note

  • In general, one of the parents is tested, and if he/she is found to be a carrier for a severe hereditary disease, the other parent is tested. If both parents are found to be carriers, the fetus is at risk for having the disease.
  • The testing results are relevant for all subsequent pregnancies.

Aid Organizations

  • For a comprehensive categorized listing of healthcare organizations offering assistance and support, click here.

Government Agencies

Laws and Regulations

Additional Publications

Sources