Parents back predictive gene testing for children: study

PARENTS are receptive to the idea of their children having genetic tests that could help to identify disease risks, and doctors need to remain vigilant about the prospect of this occurring, researchers warn.

A US National Institutes of Health-commissioned study of 219 parents found they were receptive to the idea of using personal genetic tests – available over the counter in the US and from the Internet – to identify susceptibility to eight adult-onset illnesses, including cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

The parents saw the benefits of genetic testing outweighing its risks and were “moderately interested” in testing, the study showed.

“As genetic susceptibility testing for common, adult-onset health conditions proliferates, paediatricians should anticipate parents’ interest in testing children and be prepared to facilitate informed decision-making about such testing,” the researchers said.