MONDAY, April 18 (HealthDay News) -- Given the option, parents considering personal genetic testing to predict their own risks for common conditions are also likely to have their children tested, a new study suggests.
"The more a parent believes they're going to get good news, the more likely they'll want their kids to be tested," said senior study author Colleen McBride, chief of the social and behavioral research branch of the National Human Genome Research Institute, in Washington, D.C. "But that can backfire. Most of them are not going to get a clear, straight-A report card."
In fact, because the tests measure incremental risks and the diseases screened are so common, a majority of parents would learn their children are at risk for developing potentially serious conditions, McBride said.
Hoping to explore the controversial topic of direct-to-consumer genetic testing -- whose accuracy and benefits are still in question -- researchers evaluated responses from 219 parents enrolled in a large health plan. Participants were offered genetic tests to assess their susceptibility to eight adult-onset diseases, including colon, skin and lung cancer; heart disease; osteoporosis; high blood pressure; high cholesterol; and type 2 diabetes.
Parents were more likely to want their child tested if they believed the child was at risk for a condition, were interested in genes' effects on health, or anticipated relief from learning their children were at decreased risk of disease, researchers said. Mothers were more likely to favor testing than fathers.
The study, part of a larger effort by the National Human Genome Research Institute, is published online April 18 in advance of the May print issue of the journal Pediatrics.
Study participants, whose average age was 35, were asked by telephone about their beliefs about the risks and benefits of predictive gene testin
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