Navigation Links
Prenatal whole genome sequencing: Just because we can, should we?
Date:8/10/2012

(Garrison, NY) With whole genome sequencing quickly becoming more affordable and accessible, we need to pay more attention to the massive amount of information it will deliver to parents and the fact that we don't yet understand what most of it means, concludes an article in the Hastings Center Report. The authors are current or former scholars at the National Institutes of Health's Department of Bioethics.

Most analyses of the ethical issues raised by whole genome sequencing have been "futuristic forecasting," but the authors conclude that "this is problematic given the speed with which whole genome sequencing is likely to be incorporated into clinical care," as its price falls to under $1,000.

Prenatal whole genome sequencing differs from current prenatal genetic testing practice in ethically relevant ways. Most notably, whole genome sequencing would radically increase the volume and scope of available prenatal genetic data. In contrast with current tests, which identify serious genetic conditions in fetuses at high risk of them, the new tests would likely be used by many more expectant parents and reveal a wide spectrum of genetic traits, including disease susceptibility.

Some of the ethical challenges posed by prenatal whole genome sequencing arise from the uncertainty of what the information means. The function of more than 90 percent of genes in the human genome is unknown and as a result, the article says, "much of the data generated from whole genome sequencing over the next few years (or even decades) will be of questionable utility."

After analyzing the kind of information that whole genome prenatal testing will yield, the authors conclude that most of it would probably not be as helpful as information uncovered by the current categories of prenatal tests. They cited specific areas of concern.

First of all, the quality and quantity of information may augment parents' anxiety. "To the extent that parents now think of their child as a 'clean slate' during pregnancy, the prenatal image of a normal, healthy baby will be dramatically altered by this technology," the authors write. The anxiety over the results and changing views of what is "normal" could lead to an increase in pregnancy terminations.

Apart from reproductive decisions, the authors also foresee whole genome prenatal testing having a negative impact on child rearing. For example, if parents were able to get genetic information suggesting that their child's predicted IQ may be low, they might not strongly encourage and support the child's efforts in school.

Finally, the new technology could increase the tension between the interests of parents and children. Although parents have a strong interest in getting information that informs their reproductive choices, children have a competing interest in not knowing certain kinds of information about themselves information that could limit their autonomy as they grow into adulthood.

Given the potential harms from prenatal whole genome sequencing, the authors make four preliminary recommendations.

  • Since only some of the information will be relevant to most parents' reproductive decision-making, the medical community should make clear recommendations about which categories of information should be routinely offered to parents.

  • A child's right "not to know" his or her genetic information should not be breached unless the information is clearly useful for the parents or can improve health outcomes in the child. "We recommend that the relevant societies revise their prenatal testing guidelines to ensure that their recommendations are sufficient and appropriate for the next generation of sequencing technologies."

  • More data are needed to guide the deliberation of professional societies and the public.

  • Professional societies should play an active role in educating clinicians on how whole genome sequencing differs from traditional prenatal genetic tests, and on how to educate parents about the tradeoffs involved in choosing to engage in it.


'/>"/>

Contact: Susan Gilbert
gilberts@thehastingscenter.org
845-424-4040 x244
The Hastings Center
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Prenatal exposure to air pollution linked to childhood obesity
2. Prenatal micronutrient, food supplementation intervention in Bangladesh decreases child death rate
3. Cod has a key role in the whole Baltic Sea
4. Leading evolutionary scientist to discuss how genome of bacteria has evolved
5. Darwin in the genome
6. Analysis of stickleback genome sequence catches evolution in action
7. Athletic frogs have faster-changing genomes
8. PNAS: Precise molecular surgery in the plant genome
9. BGI and Aspera collaborate on high-speed data exchange to advance genome research
10. Researchers announce GenomeSpace environment to connect genomic tools
11. UC Santa Cruz builds national data center for cancer genome research
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:5/20/2016)... , May 20, 2016  VoiceIt is excited ... with VoicePass. By working together, VoiceIt ...  Because VoiceIt and VoicePass take slightly different approaches ... increases both security and usability. ... about this new partnership. "This marketing ...
(Date:5/12/2016)... 2016 WearablesResearch.com , a brand of ... results from the Q1 wave of its quarterly wearables ... consumers, receptivity to a program where they would receive ... insurance company. "We were surprised to see ... Michael LaColla , CEO of Troubadour Research, "primarily because ...
(Date:5/3/2016)... May 3, 2016  Neurotechnology, a provider of ... MegaMatcher Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS) , a ... projects. MegaMatcher ABIS can process multiple complex biometric ... combination of fingerprint, face or iris biometrics. It ... and MegaMatcher Accelerator , which have ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... ... and Mold) microbial test has received AOAC Research Institute approval 061601. , “This ... introduced last year,” stated Bob Salter, Vice President of Regulatory and Industrial Affairs. ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... Supplyframe, the Industry ... Supplyframe Design Lab . Located in Pasadena, Calif., the Design Lab’s mission ... hardware projects are designed, built and brought to market. , The Design Lab ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. , June 23, 2016 /PRNewswire/ ... offering new biological discoveries to the medical community, has ... and co-founder Matthew Nunez . "We ... provide us with the capital we need to meet ... funding will essentially provide us the runway to complete ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... Regulatory Compliance ... consulting, provides a free webinar on Performing Quality Investigations: Getting to ... 12pm CT at no charge. , Incomplete investigations are still a major concern ...
Breaking Biology Technology: