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Buyer Beware! Know What You're Getting When You Buy Online Genetic Tests
Date:7/8/2009

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., July 8 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- They may offer to predict your baby's height, eye color, or athletic ability, and they may even suggest they can predict your risk for cancer, diabetes, Parkinson disease or obesity.

But many of those at-home genetic tests (also known as direct-to-consumer or D-T-C tests) marketed online really can't deliver -- not with any degree of certainty, experts say.

"Buyer beware! These tests are marketed to new and expecting parents and take advantage of their dream of having the perfect baby," says Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, president of the March of Dimes. "Consumers should be extremely cautious before spending the money -- and risking their privacy -- on such tests. Genetics is an exciting new frontier, but the current marketing of these tests raises ethical and medical questions."

The March of Dimes National Communications Advisory Council addressed the pros and cons of direct-to-consumer genetic testing at its bi-annual luncheon titled "Testing Your Personal Genome: What the Tests Can and Cannot Tell You."

Speakers included Siobhan Dolan, MD, MPH, associate professor, Clinical Obstetrics & Gynecology and Women's Health at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York, a faculty member of the Human Genetics Program at Sarah Lawrence College, and a genetics consultant to the March of Dimes; and Lori B. Andrews, JD, Distinguished Professor of Law and director of the Institute for Science, Law and Technology at Chicago-Kent College of Law, and co-chairperson of the March of Dimes Bioethics Advisory Committee.

The March of Dimes says some genetic tests conducted by a trained professional can provide information about the health risks a woman may face over her lifetime. Tests can also tell a woman if she is the carrier of certain genetic diseases that can be passed on to a child. Working with a he
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SOURCE March of Dimes
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