Saturday, July 31, 2010

How safe is packaged drinking water

By Syed Akbar

Packaged drinking water is fit for human consumption only if it conforms to the following guidelines:

* It should be subjected to treatment and disinfected to a level that will not lead to harmful contamination.
* Odour and taste should be agreeable
* Total dissolved solids should not exceed 500 mg/litre
* The PH value should be between 6.5 and 8.5
* There should be no mineral oil or phenolic compounds
* Residual free chlorine should not be more than 0.2 mg/litre
* Pesticide residues should not exceed 0.0001 mg/litre
* It should be free of biological contaminants like yeast, moulds, Salmonella, Shigella, E. coli or thermo tolerant bacteria, Coli form bacteria, faecal streptococci and Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

Hyderabad, July 31: When Surendra Kumar, a resident of posh Banjara Hills, purchased a 5 litres packaged drinking water can, little did he realise that he was compromising on his and family’s health. He was damn sure that he had the purest drinking water can in his hands, far safer than the “dirty” water supplied through municipal taps. But when Surendra returned home, he found to his horror that the water can was contaminated by fungus, moulds and bacterial colonies.
There are lakhs of Surendras, who blindly believe that packaged drinking water is always potable. But contrary to popular belief, packaged drinking water is not necessarily safer than the tap water. Leading brands too often fail the water test, even in the USA and the UK. For water to be fit for drinking, it should pass stringent physical, chemical and biological tests.
Health experts say, physically water should be clear, free of turbidity and with total dissolved solids not exceeding half a gram per litre of water. Chemically, it should be free of harmful chemicals, while generally available elements should be present within the prescribed limits. And then comes the all-important biological test. Drinking water should be free of all pathogens particularly those that come out of human waste.
No one should assume that just because he or she purchases water in a bottle that it is necessarily any better regulated, purer, or safer than most tap water.
While thousands including our VIPs  like to vouchsafe for the safety of packaged drinking water, the Natural Resources Defence Council, an environment action group in the USA, argues  “no one should assume that just because he or she purchases water in a bottle that it is necessarily any better regulated, purer, or safer than most tap water.” When even in an advanced country like the USA there are several regulatory gaps, one can imagine to what extent Indian manufacturers would strictly adhere to the Central guidelines.
“I bought Bisleri mineral water of 5 litres on July 15 from Road No.10, Banjara Hills. When we observed the jar we were shocked to find fungus formation at one corner. There are many dirty particles. The date of production is July 7, 2010 with the code number 8 906017290071. I wonder whether we are paying money for ill health. I made a call to Bisleri-Habsiguda office and they informed to their franchisee Gautami Industries,” Surendra said.
The Bureau of Indian Standards has delicensed several packaged drinking water brands after its laboratory tests showed they failed to maintain the prescribed standards. Thanks to the popular myth that tap water is unsafe, people spend between 200 and 400 times more per litre for packaged water than on municipal water. In Hyderabad for instance, the water board collects Rs 325 for 5000 litres of “pure and safe” drinking water, while the packaged drinking water of the same quantity and quality costs a whopping Rs 75,000.
Says GHMC senior biologist Balaji Raju, “water supplied through municipal taps is safe unless there is some contamination between the source and supply points. The same holds good for packaged drinking water. There are stringent rules on quality of drinking water and they are equally applicable for packaged drinking water and water supplied through taps”. While packaged drinking water samples are tested at random and occasionally, municipal water undergoes hundreds of tests at several points every day.
“Only on Thursday the United Nations declared that safe and pure drinking water is a basic human right. Whether our water comes from a municipal tap or a bottle from a leading manufacturer, we have every right to know how safe it is to drink,” points out senior advocate AK Basha.
Officials of the Bureau of Indian Standards suggest that before purchasing a packaged drinking water bottle, one should check the manufacture date and whether the bottle has any leaks and the tamper proof seal is in tact. Physical examination of the water can or bottle is a must as it will reveal foreign bodies, if any.
Since packaged drinking water comes under the purview of the Food Adulteration Act, affected consumers can seek legal action against, including compensation from, the manufacturer. They can lodge complaint with the Food and Sanitation wing of the local municipal authority, with the Bureau of Indian Standards or with the local police.
Now that the police had finally acted against municipal and water board officials holding them responsible for the last year’s cholera deaths in Bholakpur area of the city, consumers can hope that the erring and unscrupulous manufactures of packaged drinking water will pull up their socks and adhere to the high quality water standards fixed by the Centre.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Reference Man of India: The Indian Ideal Man is 60 kgs, Ideal Woman 55 kgs now

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, July 29: The "ideal" man of India is now 5 kgs heavier while the "ideal" woman has put on 10 kgs of weight in the last 70 years.
The Central government has fixed the weight of the Indian Reference Man at 60 kgs and the Indian Reference Woman at 55 kgs. This will henceforth be taken as the standard weight for Indian adult. The earlier values were 55 kgs for man and 45 kgs for woman, fixed before Independence.
According to the new anthropometric values suggested by the experts committee on daily recommended dietary allowance, appointed by the Indian Council of Medical Research, the ideal or reference man of India is between 18 and 29 years of age and weighs 60 kgs with a height of 1.73 metres and a body mass index of 20.3. He is free from disease and physically fit for active work.
In case of ideal Indian woman or Indian reference woman, the age has been fixed between 18 and 29 years of age. She should weigh 55 kgs with a height of 1.61 metres, a body mass index of 21.2 and free from disease. She should also be non-pregnant and non-lactating and physically fit for active work.
Based on these new anthropometric values, the total calorie intake for an Indian adult man has been fixed at 2320 kilo calories if he leads a sedentary life. The values for moderate work and heavy work respectively are 2730 kilo calories and 3490 kilo calories. The corresponding figures for the ideal Indian woman are 1900 kcal, 2230 kcal and 2850 kcal.
"For any nation to have its own recommended dietary allowance there needs to be an ideal or reference man and woman. We have arrived at the new values for the Indian reference man and woman based on the present day conditions," Dr BS Narasinga Rao, chairman of the experts committee told this correspondent.
The earlier values were fixed before Independence (1936-1944) on the recommendations of the committee of nutrition, British Medical Association, and the health committee, League of Nations. The nutrition requirements for Indians were then fixed based on the values for the Indian reference man at 55 kgs and Indian reference woman at 45 kgs. Now this has been revised to 60 kgs (up by 5 kgs) for man and 55 kgs (up by 10 kgs) for woman.
To arrive at the ideal man or woman of India, nutrition experts identify members of well-to-do, elite population with no nutritional constraints and with good health care. The anthropometric measurements of that select population are collected to set up local reference standards.
The ideal Indian man on each working day should be engaged in 8 hours of occupation which usually involves moderate activity, while when not at work he spends 8 hours in bed, 4-6 hours in sitting and moving about, 2 hours in walking and in active recreation or household duties. The same set of rules also applies for the ideal Indian woman.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Sheesha puffing: Hookah smoking is 100 times more dangerous than cigarette smoke

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, July 28: The State government may not want to see hookah puffing in pubs and restaurants as a 
crime that requires a ban, but doctors and health experts warn that this ancient water pipe is indeed a major health risk and may even lead to addiction.
With hookah smoking becoming a favourite pastime with many young Hyderabadis of late, pressure has been building up on the State government to ban hookah in public places.
While the reports on the toxicity or otherwise of hookah samples sent by the city police to AP State Forensic Laboratory are still awaited, several leaders including Congress legislator E Pratap Reddy want a check on hookah to protect the health of youngsters. Sources in the AP Forensic Laboratory said as many as eight samples are under test and the report would be ready later this week.
“Pub owners use flavours in hookah to attract youngsters. Some of the pubs charge even Rs 1,000 for an hour of hookah smoking,” Pratap Reddy pointed out. Pratap Reddy was forced to raise the issue on the floor of the State Assembly recently after the Cyberabad police noticed several youths including young schoolchildren enjoying a hookah session at a bar in the city outskirts.
The city and Cyberabad police have been booking cases against hookah shops only if they allow minors to smoke. Hookah as such cannot be banned unless some narcotics are used, the police argue. Says Banjara Hills police assistant commissioner Ravinder Reddy, “children below 18 years are banned from taking tobacco and its products. We are regularly collecting samples and sending them to Andhra Pradesh Forensic Science Laboratory (APFSL) to ascertain whether any banned substances are used in the ingredients”.
However, the State government does not want to take any drastic action against puffing hookah in public places till the forensic reports come in. But the World Health Organisation makes it clear that the water pipe contains a number of toxicants capable of causing several diseases.
City doctors point out that even if the forensic reports are negative for tobacco or narcotics, hookah still poses danger to the lives of people, particularly the young ones.
According to senior physician Dr Aftab Ahmad of Apollo Hospitals, hookah smoking gives a false sense of security but is as harmful as cigarette smoking. “About 70 per cent more nicotine is inhaled from hookah smoking than from one cigarette smoking. Hookah is associated with five times more chances of developing gum disease and lung cancer compared to a normal person who doesn't smoke,” he warns.
"Contrary to ancient lore and popular belief, the smoke that emerges from a water pipe contains numerous toxicants known to cause lung cancer, heart disease and other diseases," according to a WHO report on hookah.
Youngsters are made to believe that smoking hookah or shisha does not cause any harm as the smoke comes out through water. They are also in the false notion that they are puffing just chocolate, apple, grape or mango flavours. Many of them are unaware that tobacco and molasses are often used to create a false sense of happiness in the customers.
The WHO is of the view that a person can inhale about 100 times more smoke in a hookah session than in a single cigarette. It will also cause addiction if tobacco or drugs are used along with molasses and fruit flavours.
Facts About Hookah 
* Hookah is about a hundred times more dangerous than cigarette smoking. The amount of  tar inhaled through a single hookah session equals to the tar present in 100 cigarettes.  In the case of carbon monoxide poisoning the risk goes up to 50 times as compared with cigarette smoking.
* The water used in a hookah system may not work effectively always, exposing users to smoke.
* Hookah smoking may cause lung cancer, mouth diseases and heart troubles.
* What starts as a pastime or fun, soon becomes an addiction, exposing hookah puffers to more smoke and toxic elements including tar and carbon monoxide.
* There is also the element of infection since the pipes may not be disinfected properly.
The same pipe is puffed by several people, exposing the risk of infectious diseases.

Monday, July 26, 2010

How much of salt is too much for Indians? ICMR says 5 grams is the upper limit

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, July 25: Indians should take not more than 5 grams of salt a day if they want to keep hypertension and related heart diseases at bay.
The expert committee on new dietary guidelines, appointed by the Indian Council of  Medical Research, has
recommended daily salt dose of 1.1 grams to 3.3 grams. But in no case it should cross 5 grams if Indians
want to keep hypertension under check.
The new guidelines are likely to come into effect in a couple of months. Meanwhile, people may send in
their suggestions to the ICMR to its website, if they feel the salt quantity recommended is
either too low or too high.
While fixing the upper limit for salt consumption, the expert committee said scientific evidence shows that
primitive Indians and other people did not use much salt and thus were free from theproblem of
The salt content of natural diets, predominantly plant-based foods in India, does not exceed 300-400 mg of
sodium or one gram of salt. The Indian diet provides 90 per cent sodium from salt or sodium chloride, and
only 10-15 per cent originates from natural foods.
According to the expert committee report, salt intakes higher than 10 grams can be considered to have a
definite tendency to increase blood pressures. In India, 10 per cent of the attributable deaths are due to
hypertension and this appears to be an escalating disorder.
"Chronic disease risk factors are a leading cause of death and disability in all  countries and the important
risk factor is raised blood pressure. Around 7.1 million deaths occur as a result of  hypertension and
therefore, it is essential to have dietary approaches at a population level to decrease  hypertension, salt being
one of the important factors in the genesis of blood pressure. Hypertension is prevalent in 24-25 per cent of
people in rural India," the report said.
Apart from its relationship to hypertension, at intakes of 590-680 mmol (millimoles per litre), healthy
individuals can develop fluid retention.
The most common cause of sodium deficit is acute diarrhoea. The other disease, where it has a vital role to
play, is hypertension. A safe and adequate level is 1100-3300 mg/day. The minimum requirement for a
healthy person is 500 mg of sodium for adults and for infants and children, 58 mg/day. The maximum daily
intake of sodium chloride should not exceed 5 g per day.
But in different places people consume up to 30 g of salt every day. Almost 40 per cent of families consume
around 10 grams of sodium daily.
The dietary guidelines are being revised after a gap of 20 years. Besides salt, the ICMR will fix the
maximum and the minimum intake of protein, fat and carbohydrate, besides including new nutrients, dietary
components like selenium, B6, dietary fibre and antioxidants.
"Since 1990, there has been newer information generated by international research, updated and more
precise approaches adopted in assessing human nutrient requirement and dietary intakes and covering newer
nutrients, which have not been considered hitherto," said ICMR experts committee chairman BS Narasinga
Rao in his draft report.
Emphasising the need for new dietary guidelines, NIN director B Sesikeran said nutrients below the RDA or
many times beyond the RDA could affect the health of an individual. "The physiological status also decides
the individual's nutrient needs and this has been factored into the RDA," he added.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Visakhapatnam emerging as nuclear city

By Syed Akbar
The serene port city of Visakhapatnam is all set to go "nuclear" and play a key role in meeting the energy requirements of the country. The Bhabha Atomic Research Centre's campus is fast coming up here and once completed Visakhapatnam will get the nuclear tag.
Besides advancing into the nuclear threshold, Visakhapatnam has of late emerged as a city of science and technology with several research and development institutions either opening their campuses in the port city, or planning to do so.
The Barc campus coming up on a 3000-acre site at Achyutapuram will give boost to research in nuclear sciences including finding out the ways and means of overcoming the energy shortage through advanced nuclear energy reactors.
The Homi Bhabha National Institute, a deemed university offering graduate programmes in nuclear science, is also fast coming up at Achyutapuram in the city outskirts. India has a shortage of nuclear scientists and the proposed deemed university will help in overcoming this problem. Barc will also extend academics-related facilities in Andhra University.
Says Prof T Sitaram Reddy, former head of the department of Nuclear Physics, Andhra University, "Visakhapatnam takes the credit for pioneering research in nuclear physics and chemical technology. The Barc campus will give impetus for collaborative research. In fact, all the science departments in Andhra University have signed pact with BARC," he says.
Visakhapatnam will have state-of-the-art technology in nuclear power like accelerator driven reactor and most of the development will be for peaceful application, Prof Reddy said.
The location of the Barc centre assumes significance as Visakhapatnam if fast emerging as a strategic location for naval establishments, new nuclear base and other defence institutions.
The establishment of a centre of the National Institute of Oceanography has put Visakhapatnam at an advantageous position. The NIO centre has been carrying out research on monsoons, weather conditions and sea environment, besides gathering enough oceanographic data to chalk out strategies for harnessing the oceans.
Educationist Prof N Someswara Rao says students in the city, particularly of Andhra University, will have an added advantage of gaining access to the Barc for high standard of research.
Already Visakhapatnam boasts of the Naval Science and Technological Laboratories, and the Indian Maritime University (formerly National Ship Design Research Centre). Visakhapatnam has contributed a lot to the development of underwater mines, torpedoes, weapon launchers and decoys.

World No Tobacco Day-I: Tobacco firms always in search of new victims to boost their market

By Syed Akbar
Women and young girls are increasingly emerging as the new victims of tobacco use with tobacco firms now shifting their focus from men to women. In India tobacco is increasingly being associated with heart diseases, apart from cancers and drastic changes in reproductive health.
As the world observes the No Tobacco Day on Monday, the World Health Organisation has turned its focus on "gender and tobacco with an emphasis on marketing to women". With many women in India exposed to either direct smoking or second-hand smoke, cancer experts, cardiologists, dermatologists, reproductive health experts and pulmonologists warn that the tobacco epidemic will show drastic health complications if urgent measures to curb use of tobacco were not
India is fast emerging as the capital of heart diseases, mainly because of two reasons: one, genetic and second, acquired. While one cannot do much about genetic causes, certainly much can be done to stop acquired habits, particularly smoking, or second-hand smoke.
"About 40 per cent of  heart attacks are because of smoking and in young almost all are because of smoking. Nowadays nearly 20 per cent of women in India smoke for various reasons. Passive smoking or second hand smoke at home and office also increases heart attacks. By
quitting smoking, risk of heart attacks can be brought down by 36 per cent, one year cessation of smoking can reduce the risk by 50 per cent," says Dr Shiv Kumar, senior cardiologist at Apollo Hospitals, Secunderabad.
The Central government has implemented the WHO's recommendation on pictorial warning on tobacco products, but the World Health Organisation warns that the tobacco industry constantly and aggressively seeks new users to replace the ones who quit and the current users - up to half - who will die prematurely from cancer, heart attack, stroke, emphysema or other tobacco-related disease.
Says cancer specialist Dr Nalini, the aggressive promotion of tobacco amongst women projects smoking as female beauty, empowerment, luxury, and sign of liberation. On the contrary, tobacco enslaves and disfigures women.
"The advertisements put women to greater risks and promote heart attacks, strokes and cancers amongst women. The risk of cervical and breast cancers has increased besides, the lung and throat cancers. Younger women are more prone to addiction to smoking. Infertility, premature delivery and new born deaths are more in smokers especially during pregnancy," warns Dr Nalini.
While the WHO and health experts battle it out with the tobacco industry, breast cancer specialist Dr P Raghu Ram points out that there's growing evidence to suggest that active smoking increases the risk of pre-menopausal breast cancer.
"The rate of breast cancer has been increasing world-wide keeping pace with the rapid increase in the number of women smoking since the middle of 20th century," adds Dr Raghu Ram, who heads KIMS- Ushalakshmi Breast Centre.
The tobacco industry may be focusing on women to make a fast buck, but senior gynaecologist Dr J Bandana observes that once women take to tobacco, they become addict to it, more than men. "Research has revealed that women might be more susceptible to the addictive properties of nicotine and have a slower metabolic clearance of nicotine from their bodies than men. Also, women seem to be more susceptible to the effects of tobacco carcinogens than men".
It's estimated that the fertility of smoking women is 72 per cent that of non-smokers, while smoking also causes women to enter menopause sooner and leads to menstrual irregularities.
The WHO has also taken a serious note of second-hand smoke or passive smoking holding it responsible for an equal number of deaths or health complications. According to Dr Arun Diwan, head of internal medicine, Batra Hospital, second hand smoke is particularly worrisome
for women. "Especially in women long-term exposure to tobacco causes multi-organ damage. These women patients are  predisposed to chronic diseases, strokes, hypertension and heart diseases."
Women, if exposed to tobacco at an early age, will report severe health complications including deprivation of oxygen to vital organs. Says senior consultant paediatrician Dr Sanjeev Bagai, "early exposure of tobacco in adolescence causes hypertension, kidney and lung diseases. Tobacco smoke contains high levels of carbon monoxide, which affects the heart by reducing the amount of oxygen the blood is able to carry."
Dr Anil Dhall of Artemis Hospital says one out of every two women smokers, who start at a young age and continue smoking throughout their lives, will ultimately be killed by a tobacco-related illness. "Half of these will die in middle age, losing around 22 years of normal
life expectancy. With prolonged smoking, smokers have a death rate about three times higher than non-smokers at all ages starting from young adulthood".

World No Tobacco Day - II: Women are at great risk

By Syed Akbar
According to the World Health Organisation, the following issues put women at great risk:
1. Tobacco companies are spending heavily on alluring marketing campaigns that target women.
2. Women are gaining spending power and independence. Therefore, they are more able to afford tobacco and feel freer to use it.
3. Tobacco companies are investing heavily in the low-income and middle-income countries, where most potential new female users live.
4. Many countries do not do enough to protect their people from second-hand smoke.
5. Many women do not know about the harm done by second-hand smoke, or feel as if they have no right to complain.
6. Advertisements lure women with such misleading identifiers as "light" or "low-tar". More women than men smoke "light" cigarettes, often in the mistaken belief that "light" means "safer".
7. Among the industry's many targets of opportunity, women constitute one of the biggest. That's because fewer women than men smoke or chew tobacco.  Of the world's over one billion smokers, only about 200 million are women. With women, the industry simply has more room to expand.

World No Tobacco Day-III: Key facts about tobacco

By Syed Akbar
* Tobacco kills up to half of its users.
* The annual death roll of more than five million could rise to more than eight million by 2030 unless urgent action is taken to control the tobacco epidemic, says a WHO report.
* More than 80 per cent of the world's one billion smokers live in low-and middle-income countries, including India.
* Total consumption of tobacco products is increasing globally, thoughit is decreasing in some high-income and upper middle-incomecountries, the WHO report adds.
* Women who smoke are more likely than those who do not toexperience infertility and delays in conceiving.
* Maternal smoking during pregnancy increases the risks of prematuredelivery, stillbirth and newborn death and may cause a reduction inbreast milk.
* Smoking increases women's risk for cancer of the cervix. There is a possible link between active smoking and premenopausal breast cancer.

No tobacco day - IV: Ban on smoking in public places observed more in breach

By Syed Akbar
DC Correspondent
Hyderabad, May 30: The ban on smoking in public places is observed more in breach in the State. Though the ban came into effect about 20 months ago, health and medical and police authorities have failed to implement it effectively.
One can find many people smoking in restaurant and road-side tea stalls in flagrant violation of the Central rules. Though the authorities concerned implemented the scheme with full force in the first two months of the ban coming into effect, they have now turned a blind eye to the public menace.
The authorities concerned have fined fewer than 1000 smokers in twin cities. Given the large number of smoking population in Hyderabad and surrounding areas, the number of people fined is too small a figure.
Says Dr Ch Jaya Kumari, district medical and health officer, Hyderabad, "we have been focusing on the awareness part and have taken up a massive campaign. We have so far covered 178 schools
concentrating on children, as awareness should begin right from school".
The World Health Organisation has listed passive smoking or second-hand smoke as equally responsible for several health complications including cancers, heart diseases and brain damage.
Emphasising the need for effective implementation of ban, cardiologist Dr Sanjjev Sharma, says "coronary heart disease is one of the leading causes of death. Contrary to public perception, smoking-caused heart disease actually results in more deaths per year than smoking-caused
lung cancer. Cigarette smoking causes 30 per cent of all heart disease deaths. Second-hand smoke is equally responsible".

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Genetic kundali is the new mantra for the young

By Syed Akbar
It's not the job, money or family that matters when it comes to marriage. It is about looks and finding a spouse who is genetically gifted.

T he youth of Hyderabad nowadays prefer to date and marry good-look ing partners as it is not only more fun to live with attractive people, but because they want their children to look good. With good looks being the passport to success even in kindergarten, young men and women cannot be blamed for wanting to have cute babies. Ours is a skin-deep age.
Thanks to this new fad which has puzzled even marriage counsellors, astro charts and family prestige have been thrown out of the window. Instead, the genetic kundali is in, for it's the genes which mostly determine your looks.
And as usual, the youth cite lives of celebrities to prove their point. Abhishek Bachchan, they say, is as tall as his father Big B, and Saif Ali Khan and Soha have inherited the looks of their mother Sharmila Tagore, and Lourdes is as beautiful as Madonna. So, they vouch, it is common sense that children will look good if both parents look good. So don’t be taken aback if the girl you are going to marry holds forth on chromosomes and heredity when you meet her the next time. What she means is that she likes your dimples and wants her kids to have them too.
“If your spouse is good-looking, your children will be attractive too, this is the latest funda,” says pre-marriage counsellor, S.V. Nagnath.
Though the truth is more complicated, their preference cannot be easily dismissed, say scientists. “Every person carries genes with characteristics called dominant and recessive,” says the senior geneticist, Dr M.N. Khaja.
“Dominant characteristics such as dimples, a full head of hair, height, curly hair and normal vision overtake recessive characters. So the dominant features of the father and mother are passed on to children.” “Almost two-thirds of youngsters who visit us for pre-marital counselling do not hide their wish for having fair complexioned and good-looking babies,” says Nagnath. “Even in arranged matches, boys and girls want the would-be spouse to have strong physique and good facial features.” Thanks to this trend, there are new taboos. Even if the astro charts match, women shy away from marrying bald men.
“Certain body features like baldness, dark complexion and short-sightedness are to genetics what Manglik dosham is to astro charts,” quips C.V.
Subbaiah, a marriage counsellor. Even family prestige has taken a back seat. “More than half of my clients give preference to beauty and looks, rather than money and family background,” he says.
But can you have ‘designer babies’ that look cute by marrying a cute guy? Things are not that simple. Hark back to celebs again. Abhishek does not look much like Jaya Bachchan and superstar Rajnikanth’s daughters resemble his wife more than him.
Heredity is a complicated phenomenon and scientists are still puzzling over the process of mixing of chromosomes.
A child may inherit the physical features of grandparents or even older generations. The father may be fair-skinned but the baby may inherit the dark skin of the grandpa.
In the US, some mothers-tobe sometimes opt for a test known as pre-implantation genetic diagnosis in which embryos are generated in a test tube and the DNA is analysed before being implanted in the uterus. This helps them avoid embryos that indicate vulnerability to certain ailments such as Huntington’s disease.
But there is no process as yet to find out if your son is going to be as tall as his father.
So this is not the end of the road for those who are shortsighted or bald. Like Manglik dosham can be overcome through special poojas, genetic defects too can be overcome by choosing a spouse with contrasting characteristics.
“If a girl, for instance, has night blindness, she can avoid her children having the same problem by marrying a boy with normal vision,” says Dr Khaja. You can pick and choose carefully but do keep your fingers crossed.