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Genetic testing in newborns and children: Ethical issues affecting families and physicians
Date:6/4/2008

The Treuman Katz Center for Pediatric Bioethics at Seattle Children's Hospital will host its fourth annual international bioethics conference on July 25-26, 2008 in Seattle. Conference participants will discuss the ethical implications of genetic testing including newborn screening for risk of future disease, how these tests impact families, testing prior to adoption, how results are used by families and the medical community, technological advances in testing and why the burden of genetic information often becomes a mixed blessing. "Predicting Our Future: Genetic Testing in Children and Their Families" will be held at the Bell Harbor International Conference Center on Seattle's downtown waterfront.

"The technology, marketing and use of genetic testing is growing all the time," said Dr. Benjamin Wilfond, the center's director. "However, there is lack of clarity about what should be done with this increased information and how it affects families. States vary widely in their newborn screening practices. As testing capabilities continue to expand, particularly for adult onset diseases, we must consider whether parents should be able to make these decisions for their children. There continues to be more and more genetic knowledge available, and therefore we have increased obligations to use it appropriately and understand what it means to individuals, families and society as a whole."

With a focus on the ethical, legal and medical issues affecting children and their families, this conference will address many questions related to genetic testing such as:

  • Should parents be able to make adoption decisions based upon genetic test results?
  • Which adult-onset diseases should newborns be tested for? Should these tests be mandatory or optional?
  • How does advance knowledge of possible or probable disease affect children and their parents?
  • When is too much information undesirable?
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Contact: Teri Thomas
teri.thomas@seattlechildrens.org
Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center of Seattle
Source:Eurekalert

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