In France, some two-thirds of autistic children receive some kind of genetic test, paid for by the national health service. That’s twice as many as are tested in the United States, where insurance companies typically don’t cover the cost of the tests. Most French children with autism are screened for the related fragile X syndrome or get a ‘chromosomal microarray analysis.’
[A] few European governments are channeling funds toward expanding the number of genetic tests their clinics routinely offer. … “We are really in a transition phase. Rather than testing one, two, three, four genes, everyone is now switching to whole-exome sequencing,” says Ype Elgersma, professor of molecular neuroscience at Erasmus University in Rotterdam.
This move toward genetic testing is part of a larger shift in attitudes toward autism in Europe. … Now, however, Europe is moving the spotlight onto genetic services — in part in response to parents’ demands.
As these countries scale up genetic testing for autism, their efforts could offer practical lessons to other regions. The troves of data they collect could also help scientists link more genetic variants to autism, ultimately making genetic testing more valuable for everyone.
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