A Boston-based DNA sequencing company is offering to decode the complete genomes of newborns in China, leading some to ask how much parents should know about their children’s genes at birth.
Veritas Genetics says the test, ordered by a doctor, will report back on 950 serious early- and later-life disease risks, 200 genes connected to drug reactions, and more than 100 physical traits a child is likely to have.
Called myBabyGenome, the service costs $1,500 and could help identify serious hidden problems in newborns, the company says.
The problem is that the risk posed by many disease genes remains uncertain. Even if a child has a mutation in a gene, he or she may never be affected, prompting debate among doctors about whether it’s useful to inform parents.
...Mirza Cifric, CEO of Veritas, declined to provide a timeline for launching a similar service in the U.S. While a few doctors here have begun sequencing newborns with unexplained illnesses, American medical bodies have opposed sequencing healthy babies because most of the data doesn’t lead to clear actions doctors can take.
But Veritas will not reveal everything...For instance, it won’t tell them about a gene that can strongly predispose people to Alzheimer’s in old age.
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