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The implications of direct-to-consumer testing

In this tutorial you will hear about direct-to-consumer genetic testing and discuss whether you think that it should be freely available.
I think consumer genetic testing is interesting. So, for example, it may be used to identify the sex of the baby– maybe used to identify the paternity of the baby. And there are other physical and genetic characteristics that could be identified. My instinctive response is that this sort of consumer genetics is not a good thing, because it alludes to the question asked earlier, about whether we’re heading towards a designer-baby culture, where it’s nonmedicalised genetic testing, where there are two concerns. One is whether the company has adequately informed the woman or the parents about what the testing is about and what the potential pitfalls of the testing are, as well as the advantages.
And I have no certainty that that is occurring effectively. They may be given a big piece of paper with lots of information, but we really don’t know whether they understand the pros and cons. And the second is the scope of what’s being tested. We specifically test for genetic problems that have a direct consequence on the physical or mental well-being of the baby. If you do direct genetic testing, without going through a medical source– a medical pathway– then I suppose there needs to be some legislation about what it is appropriate to and what it is appropriate not to test.

In this video, Professor Basky Thilaganathan, discusses his opinion of direct-to-consumer genetic testing in the prenatal setting.

What arguments could be advanced in favour of DTC genetic testing?

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The Genomics Era: the Future of Genetics in Medicine

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