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Living Well: Hispanic Gene Mutation

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"The very short-term memory can just disappear."

Memory loss, seizures, involuntary twitches ... these are just some of the symptoms Tobias Pino has been managing since he was 19.

"One evening I was sitting on the couch, and I just started seeing spots." 

He has a condition called the Common Hispanic Mutation. It can cause seizures and other neurological problems, and even sudden death. 

It's linked to one of New Mexico's founding families ... Cristobal Baca the second and his wife, Ana Maria Lara. 

Pino's dad has it.  

And his cousin, his little sister, and niece. 

His brother died from the disorder at just 3 months old. And when he learned his daughter had it, Pino made a big life decision. 

"I decided I wasn't gonna have any more kids." 

The Baca family historical project was created last year to help raise awareness. 

"We estimate that probably one in every 50 New Mexico Hispanics may carry the gene." 

"if you think you may have the gene, they can help you find out with free genetic testing. In fact my dad's family is from northern New Mexico, so I decided to fill out one of their pedigree charts, and now they're going to send it off to a genealogist to review it."

"If you do come back positive, your doctor, through angioma alliance will be notified that you have this and then you are open to a lot of resources that are available here in the state."

There is no cure. But doctors are becoming more aware of it, and Pino says just knowing what to look for is half the battle. 

"Talk to the doctor and have them research some of this stuff to find out."

The project website has much more information about the disorder. 

It also has a list of the most common Hispanic last names known to have the mutated gene. 

Log on to www.bacafamily.org.

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