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Study: Parents likely to embrace predictive genetic testing for their children if offered
Date:4/17/2011

Washington, D.C. Parents offered genetic testing to predict their risks of common, adult-onset health conditions say they would also test their children. That is the finding of a new study published in the May issue of Pediatrics (published online April 18). The study authors note these and other findings should put pediatricians on alert that parents may chose predictive genetic tests for themselves and for their children, and seek guidance from doctors about what to do with the information.

Personal genetic tests are available directly to consumers at drug stores and over the Internet. They are controversial, and generally marketed to adults for their own use. However, it might be only a matter of time before parents become the focus of advertising campaigns targeting their children for testing, says Kenneth P. Tercyak, PhD, associate professor of oncology and pediatrics at Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, a part of Georgetown University Medical Center.

"The findings of our study should remind clinicians and policy-makers to consider children when regulating genetic tests," says Tercyak, the study's lead author. "These tests usually don't offer a clean bill of health and can be hard to interpret even in the best scenario. They identify incremental risks for many common diseases. Most people carry some risk based on a combination of their family history, genetics, and lifestyle. A child's unexpected test results could trigger negative reactions among parents and children, and lead to conversations at the pediatrician's office that providers aren't prepared to have."

The study, part of a larger effort by the National Human Genome Research Institute at the National Institutes of Health to assess the public's use of genetic tests, involved 219 parents who had been offered genetic testing for susceptibility to eight common, adult-onset health conditions (including colon, skin and lung cancer; heart diseas
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Contact: Karen Mallet
km463@georgetown.edu
215-514-9751
Georgetown University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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