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.
The tone of the press release is one of concern that parents will go and get their kids tested without professional supervision. Who knows what they might think and do with the information? Parents can already get their children genetically tested just like they can get themselves tested - all without medical supervision.
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."
My view: Regulators should find something else to do with their time instead of trying to prevent people from getting their own or the childrens' DNA tested.
People who were interested in their own genetic sequences were also most interested in the genetic sequences of their children. The parents see value in getting more information. Since I generally see more information as better the reasoning of the parents makes sense to me.
Tercyak says the group of parents that were most interested in the test for themselves were interested in having their child tested too. In fact, parents made little distinction between the pros and cons of testing for themselves and for their children -- generally favoring the information, and believing it could lead to improved health maintenance, disease prevention, and other personal benefits during childhood and later on in the child's life.
Genetic tests are going to become more detailed and the number of insights we'll be able to get from our genetic tests will rise drastically in the next 10 years. The cost of genetic testing has fallen so fast that scientists are now much better positioned to tease out the functional significance of large numbers of locations in the genome where we differ from each other. I say let the information flow directly to us.
|Share |||Randall Parker, 2011 April 19 12:44 AM Policy Medical|