From the annual meeting of the Society for Obstetric Anesthesia and Perinatology, Washington, DC:
Here’s another example of the progress toward customized medical care according to your genes. Dr. Alex T. Sia, of the KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Singapore, presented results of a study in which the presence of a particular variant gene independently predicted morphine consumption and pain scores.
“We could differentiate patients by genotype based on consumption of morphine,” Dr. Sia said at the meeting.
Why is this important for obstetric anesthesia? Previous studies have shown that better pain relief improves post-op outcomes for women who have C-section deliveries. So in the future when we carry some sort of scannable device that lists our genetic makeup, doctors may be able to customize pain medications for maximum relief and minimum side effects.
But genes aren’t everything, and it’s worth remembering the culture and environment play roles in all aspects of health, including pain management. Another study scheduled to be presented at the meeting included 800 consecutive singleton pregnancies from a hospital in Queens, supposedly the most diverse area of the U.S. In this study, there were no significant differences in the use of epidural anesthesia among women in all ethnic groups, including black, white, Hispanic, Chinese/Korean, and Indian/Pakistani.
Personally, I think it’s somewhat reassuring to know that genes can’t account for absolutely everything.
–Heidi Splete (twitter @hsplete)