Thursday, December 6, 2012

Say No to DNA Screening

Two NPR stories on the question DNA testing from today's news:

British scientists analyzed the DNA of 179 healthy adults and found a much higher rate of mutation than they expected, including 10 percent with mutations that should cause serious disease. Yet, these people are healthy. So that means that our DNA, in this sense at least, is not our destiny.

There's increasing pressure, however, to test babies at birth (or even in utero) to analyze their DNA. Of course, decisions -- including abortions -- will be made based on that information, as new parents seek perfection and avoid risk. The idea of selecting your children like you would a house or a car is pretty disturbing. It reminds me of people who seem to be breeding their children to be sports stars, as if unconditional love is not the basis of parenting.

And even if the children are born after testing, or were already born when tested, knowing too much has risks.

Bioethicist Mark Rothstein of the University of Louisville says the tests can lead to so-called vulnerable child syndrome.

These children "are viewed as medically vulnerable and medically frail," Rothstein says. "And so while all the other kids are riding bikes and climbing trees, these kids are sort of sitting in a corner. So they can't even enjoy a normal childhood."

And what if the sequencing reveals that a child has genes that may make them prone to diseases that may not show up for decades — and that they can't do anything about anyway?
Would you want to know what your genome says? Isn't that the ultimate in screening health people, which we already know leads to over treatment?

How can we even be talking about this?

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