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Parents want genome sequencing for newborns

Sun, Dec 07, 2014, 02:41 PM
New York, Dec 7 : A study has suggested that most parents, irrespective of personal demographic background, are keen to have genomic sequencing for their newborns that will help doctors devise personalised medicine to guide therapeutic intervention.

As next-generation genome sequencing is integrated into clinical practice, researchers are increasingly interested in genomic testing to provide valuable personalised health information for newborns beyond what existing standard newborn genetic screening produces.

But such a testing, performed just after birth, requires the interest and consent of the infant's parents.

The study, led by researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) and Boston Children's Hospital, found that the majority of parents surveyed were interested in newborn genomic testing.

Several other studies have measured parents' interest in newborn genomic screening but none focused on new parents in the first 48 hours.

"Since this is when genomic testing would be of the greatest value, it is especially important to study parents' attitudes immediately post-partum," said Robert C. Green, geneticist and researcher at BWH and Harvard Medical School.

The researchers surveyed 514 parents at BWH within 48 hours of their child's birth.

After receiving a brief orientation to the genome and its impacts on human health, 82.7 percent of parents showed interest in newborn genomic testing.

Results were similar regardless of parents' age, gender, race, ethnicity, level of education, family history of genetic disease or whether or not the infant was a first-born child.

Most couples were in agreement about their level of interest in newborn genomic testing.

"Only few parents who had experienced concerns about the health of their newborn, however, were less likely to be interested in genomic testing," Green said.

The paper appeared in the journal Genetics in Medicine.
Agency: IANS
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