According to a joint statement issued by the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics (“ACMG”) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (“AAP”), genetically testing children for the likelihood of adult-onset diseases may not be worthwhile.
Approximately four million infants in the United States undergo such genetic testing each year, but the parameters of the screenings vary from state to state.
The ACMG and the AAP suggest that newborns should only be tested for disease that are included in their state’s screening panel, and that further genetic testing should not be extensive. If parents elect for further genetic testing, they should remember to keep their child’s best interests in mind.
The ACMG and AAP also maintain that testing children for diseases that may arise when they become adults is generally not worthwhile. This is primarily because these tests are open to a wide variety of interpretations, and many of the diseases that test positively may never develop.
The agencies did stress, however, that if there is a family history of a certain genetic disease, especially certain forms of cancer, early testing could make a significant difference in the child’s life. They also emphasized that testing for childhood-onset diseases is always worth considering depending upon the particular facts and circumstances of each individual case.
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