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Consumers desire more genetic testing, but not designer babies
Date:1/26/2009

A new study by researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center found a high desire for additional genetic testing among consumers for life altering and threatening medical conditions including mental retardation, blindness, deafness, cancer, heart disease, dwarfism and shortened lifespan from death by 5 years of age. Consumers, however, are less interested in prenatal genetic testing for traits including tall stature, superior athletic ability and superior intelligence.

"Our research has discovered that although the media portrays a desire for 'designer babies', this does not appear to be true among consumers of genetic testing services," said Feighanne Hathaway, MS CGC, a certified genetic counselor at the NYU Cancer Institute. The article entitled, "Consumers' Desire towards Current and Prospective Reproductive Genetic Testing" published online early by the Journal of Genetic Counseling finds that consumers desire more genetic testing than what is currently offered but their selection of tests have limits on enhancements.

Prior to their initial visit with a genetic counselor at NYU's Human Genetics Program, 999 patients completed a one-page, 10 question categorical survey to assess their attitude towards reproductive genetic testing between July 2006 and February 2007. These consumers were asked to indicate traits and conditions for which they would choose reproductive genetic testing by circling answers from a list of thirteen that included both diseases and enhancements.

The study found that the majority of respondents would elect for the screening of the following conditions: mental retardation (75%), deafness (54%), blindness (56%), heart disease (52%), and cancer (51%). The results indicate that less than half of population (49.3%) would choose testing for a condition that resulted in death by 5 years of age, whereas even less parents (only 41.1%, 24.9%, and 19%) would choose testing for conditions that results in death by
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Contact: Lauren Woods
lauren.woods@nyumc.org
212-404-3555
NYU Langone Medical Center / New York University School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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