HOUSTON -- (Feb. 11, 2011) – Researchers using DNA microarrays to diagnose developmental disabilities or congenital anomalies in children may unexpectedly identify that some have been conceived through incest. This raises social and legal issues that institutions and the scientific community must address, said researchers from Baylor College of Medicine (www.bcm.edu) in a report that appears in the current issue of the journal Lancet (http://www.thelancet.com/).
"We have discussed these issues with legal and ethics experts at Baylor and Texas Children's Hospital, and we are considering how best to handle them," said Dr. Arthur Beaudet (www.bcm.edu/genetics/index.cfm?pmid=10579), chair of molecular and human genetics at BCM and a senior author of the report. In most states, clinicians are required to report suspicions of child abuse. If it is suspected that the pregnancy was the result of abuse, then that will need to be reported to child protective services and, potentially, law enforcement. The responsibility of the physician is less clear when the mother is an adult, he said. It may depend on her age and family circumstances when she became pregnant.
These findings have social implications as well. The mother may deny that the incest took place, or she may be fearful for the safety of herself and her child if it comes to light.
DNA testing at birth makes sense for many reasons. Who's the daddy is a big one. Cuckolds should know to file for divorce of course. I knew a guy who got his kids blood tested and discovered they had 3 blood types. Well, at least one of them was not his. The wife refused to submit to a blood test so he could get a better guess if any of them might be his. He is not the only guy I've met who discovered his kids weren't his own. Also, the problem of incest is very real as is the problem of cousin marriage.
Genetic testing cab also turn up genetic diseases of metabolism such as phenylketonuria, homocystinuria, and tyrosinemia. Most of the amino acid metabolism genetic diseases can be diagnosed using blood tests of metabolites. But genetic testing will enable earlier diagnosis of lots of diseases that do not cause clinical symptoms until years later.
Another value of genetic testing at birth: The results can be saved to later identify a baby kidnapped and raised by someone else.
|Share |||Randall Parker, 2011 February 10 09:24 PM Biotech Society|