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Is there such a thing as too much prenatal genetic information?

| | April 3, 2019
3-31-2019 gravidez ultrassom principal
Image: Marie Ashworth
This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

[P]renatal whole-genome sequencing is [not] commercially available yet (though it’s definitely coming). But what is available is something called noninvasive prenatal genetic screening (NIPT). Based on a blood sample from mom, they have been used for several years to tell expectant parents if their baby might have, say, a chromosomal abnormality.

Makers of those tests, though, are already pushing the technology beyond its recommended uses to flag a rapidly expanding list of the unborn’s potential genetic flaws. But these bigger and bigger menus of genetic testing also come with less and less information about how predictive the data they reveal actually is.

Related article:  Genetically modified astronauts? Why humans may need to be redesigned for deep-space missions

And with that comes profound ethical implications. “Everyone thinks they’re going to have a perfect baby but if you test any genome you’re going to find a large number of things that each confer a little bit of risk,” says [bioethicist Ben] Berkman.

[F]or the vast majority of those variants, it’s unknown exactly how severely they impact human health. “My worry is that people will panic and make these reproductive decisions that maybe aren’t in line with their values based on information that’s not quite ready for prime time.”

Read full, original post: How much prenatal genetic information do you actually want? 

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