March 31, 2009 — -- Women, like New York City resident Kelcey Kintner, believe their spit could tell them a lot about the future of their offspring.
Kintner is part of a bold, new online initiative that aims to empower women and science with new knowledge about the experience of pregnancy.
A kit from genetic coding company 23 and Me lets users -- women and men -- spit into a tube and then send it off to a lab that analyzes the DNA in about 10 weeks.
Then, the company sends the results and the user can choose to start exploring her or his genome.
"When I first heard about it I thought, 'I don't want to have anything to do with that.' I just had a lot of fears," said Kintner, who is blogging about her experience.
23 and Me offers relatively inexpensive and simple genetic testing for the masses. For a $399 fee the company will map your DNA and tell you if you're predisposed to as many as 90 different conditions, such as lupus or lactose intolerance.
23 and Me co-founders Anne Wojcicki and Linda Avey said they believe the information could help potential parents make decisions about their lives.
Wojcicki and Avey are reaching out to mothers and professional bloggers like Kintner, to help increase the dialogue and database surrounding pregnancy issues.
"One of the things we really want to do is allow women to have healthier pregnancies, because we believe that's going to lead to better health outcomes for you and most importantly, for your child," Wojcicki said.
"The Web flattens the world and now you have pregnant women all over the world who are sharing and comparing," Avey said.
For Wojcicki, the business isn't just professional; it's personal. She and her husband Sergey Brin, who is Google's co-founder, recently discovered after their own testing that Brin is predisposed to Parkinson's disease, which means it may become an issue for their newborn son as well.
"We feel we've been really empowered," Wojcicki said. "We want to focus on the treatment of it."