Your doctor may order a genetic test for any number of reasons related to diagnosis, prevention, and treatment. Search. As these tests gain in popularity however, it is important to understand some of the broader conversations that surround them, including potential ethical complications. The result is more efficient planting for farmers, along with better quality food for consumers. These tests are optional, though physicians may recommend them in cases where risk factors, such as advanced maternal age, are evident. You can take action: A clearer portrait of risk can guide medical care. Genetic testing, when appropriate, is a powerful tool to gauge a patient’s risk for disease. NOTICE: Except where otherwise noted, all articles are published under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license. “You need to know what to go after,” Aatre says. Direct-to-consumer genetic testing provides only partial information about your health. If testing reveals a baby with health risks or abnormalities, the mother may feel familial or societal pressure to terminate the pregnancy when this may not be what she truly wants. Today’s genetic tests are targeting the coding component of the genes that are relevant to specific diseases. Well, as there are many reasons why men and women have infertility, IVF has specific requirements and flows differently in any particular case. Genetic Testing Pros and Cons. Providers may find themselves caught between advocating for the physical well-being of their patients and acknowledging disparate access to medical resources. So, you’ve carefully considered all your thoughts and finally decided to apply for in vitro fertilization program. You inherit 50% of this DNA from your mother, and 50% from your father. All human beings have unique sequences of DNA, a chemical database that provides instructions for how the body functions. Ancestry tests are taken either in a medical practice or at home; the latter is an incredibly popular option. ScienceDaily, “Does Genetic Testing Pose Psychosocial Risks?” Blood tests and cheek swabs have virtually no risk whatsoever. The goal is to create widespread access to genetic testing trends and data points, allowing medical professionals to identify clear links between genetic markers and certain medical conditions or medication reactions. One is that it may impede on individual personal freedom. Inside each cell lies the genetic material or the DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid). Genetic testing should be encouraged only when there is effective therapy available to prevent or treat the condition tested for. Genetic testing can predict the risk of disease or illness, which can be an asset to patients and their caregivers; yet, it can also be misused. © Copyright 2021 Regents of the University of Michigan. “The kind of tests we have today weren’t even possible 20 years ago.”. In this section, we want to help you understand both the advantages and disadvantages of genetic testing for cancer. Not everyone is eligible: To get tested, a loved one must already have been affected by a disease or disorder — and been genetically tested, too. More information about the ethics of genetic testing can be found here: Generally, genetic tests have very little physical risk. Few would question that genetic testing has helped save lives and treat illness, yet these positive outcomes do not come without some related concerns. Genetic Testing. Meanwhile, commercial testing services such as 23andMe enable customers to trace their genetic origins and learn more about their family history. There are even direct-to-consumer tests able to trace your ancestry. Similarly, genetic testing is used in selective animal breeding, which enables farmers to produce the healthiest and most resilient livestock. “They’re cheaper than they used to be but are still very expensive,” Aatre says. There are a number of applications for genetic testing, including prenatal testing. This prompted her to see her doctor, who spotted a small indication of cancer and immediately started treatment. By Sarah Yahr Tucker November 2020. Sometimes, genetic testing reveals a medical complication “accidentally.” A Science News article highlights a woman who used a genetic testing service to learn more about her family history. Conversely, genetic testing may compel a mother to terminate the pregnancy, causing tension within a family or a community. It was 2018, and Pomerantz, who lives in Los Angeles, had completed a DNA test from 23andMe that included a Genetic Health Risk report. That, she notes, involves reading a DNA sequence from start to finish to see if there are any “interruptions/disruptions” — mutations associated with the disease in question — that stop the gene from making normal proteins. “For biological parents, particularly those who gave children up for adoption, reunification often relieves guilt, uncertainty and what can be deep scars over the decision,” the APA writes. Some People with Obsess about Potential Health Risks. Read about Michigan Medicine’s latest research and medical breakthroughs on our science-driven sister blog. List of the Advantages of Genetic Testing 1. It is an effective tool to diagnose everything, from risks of cancer to genetic abnormalities in the newborn. This is an important method where medical treatment is highly personalized to the patient. The testing revealed an amino acid in her DNA that put her at high risk for breast cancer. This is called genetic ancestry testing. Some of the specific diseases that can be identified via genetic testing include: Genetic testing can be life-saving for patients, and it also empowers medical providers to better focus their treatment efforts. A few examples of the cons of genetic testing: 1. Undergoing prenatal genetic testing has several pros and cons. You are free to copy, distribute, adapt, transmit, or make commercial use of this work as long as you attribute Michigan Medicine as the original creator and include a link to this article. ... A pair of expert clinician-scientists discussed the benefits and the potential drawbacks of universal genetic testing during a Virtual SABCS debate on Friday, Dec. 11. This BiologyWise article focuses on the many pros and cons of this advanced technique. The World Health Organization writes: “Employers and insurance companies have been known to deny individuals essential healthcare or employment based on knowledge of genetic disposition. Nevertheless, you can go through PGS to minimize all the risks and maximize the chances of giving birth to a healthy child. Ethical concerns, health concerns and legal concerns have surfaced with regard to genetic tests. SEE ALSO: Should Young People Get a Colon Cancer Screening? This paper set out to discuss the pros and cons of genetic screening so as to provide a stand as to whether this practice should be encouraged. U.S. National Library of Medicine, What Are the Risks and Limitations of Genetic Testing? Everyone’s body has seven to 10 nonworking/altered genes, she notes, so family and clinical history must dictate when and where to focus attention (and avoid unnecessary anxiety). Genetic testing involves analysis of this DNA, which can reveal any mutations (changes to that chemical database) that may suggest a higher risk of illness, deformity or disease. List of Pros of Genetic Testing. Newborn screening is the most common form of genetic testing in the United States. Many are also worried about the fact that many of these companies provide this information without any sort of medical context for the samples that they are testing when it comes to each individual patient. From simple applications like commercial genetic origin testing to determining risk factors and the probability of diseases for unborn babies, the breadth of uses is very wide, and here are some pros and cons of genetic testing, on the whole. For example, what if genetic testing reveals an individual who is at acute medical risk and requires immediate treatment, yet that individual does not have the insurance or the funds to pay for the best treatment? Still, says Aatre: “This crystal ball, all of a sudden, can pop in front of you.” That may spark deep feelings of guilt (regardless of findings) or difficult decisions. Which program are you most interested in? Notable exceptions: Disability, life and long-term care insurance could be affected. No matter how much you intellectualize it, you can’t ever discount that the feeling of responsibility or guilt won’t affect you.”. The pros and cons of genetic testing warrant a closer look. The gathering of genetic material for testing is typically accomplished through: While most genetic testing is conducted in a hospital or other medical practice, services such as 23andMe allow participants to collect their own cheek swabs and mail them in for testing. In recent years, the field of genetic testing has risen in both prominence and popularity. Legal issues that surround genetic testing tend to focus on the potential for discrimination. Testing can be costly: The price of genetic testing ranges from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. UIC, Master of Science in Health Informatics & Post-Master’s Certificate in Health Informatics, Understanding the Pros and Cons of Genetic Testing, and Gynecologists, “Prenatal Genetic Screening Tests.”, WebMD, “Pregnant? And since each parent contributes 50 percent to a child’s DNA, two siblings may have different test results. Ethical concerns. “It’s just exploded,” says Aatre. Additional information about genetic testing and its use in agriculture can be found here: There are important connections between genetic testing and health informatics; though these connections are still being fleshed out and explored, they have already yielded some significant resources to improve the effectiveness of preventative medical care. “The science is easy to process; the emotional component is not,” says Rajani Aatre, M.S., M.Sc., a genetic counselor at the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center. One is that it may impede on individual personal freedom. Amniocentesis (for pregnant women; involves the use of a thin needle inserted into the uterus to collect fluid), Selectively breeding corn that yields larger kernels and larger ears, Breeding turkeys that grow faster and become larger, Introducing new varieties of crops that can thrive in harsh climates, Breeding cattle that are resistant to specific diseases and do not require antibiotics or other chemicals. Genetic tests offered by companies like 23andMe only analyze a small segment of your DNA. Also note that by detecting high-risk categories in babies, prenatal providers are able to better plan for the pediatric care the child will need at birth. U.S. National Library of Medicine, What Is Genetic Testing? What Are The Pros And Cons Of Using Animals For Commercial Testing. Results may trigger emotions: Finding out that a gene mutation is absent can offer a deep sense of relief. Determine parenthood:Genetic testing determines the parenthood of a child in cases of child custody and support. Through early detection, treatment can commence as quickly as possible. ... Genetic testing holds great potential for the future of medical care. Many cancer patients wish they would have done genetic testing so they could have prevented the cancer treatment they have had to endure. Ethical concerns fall along several lines. “A big part of genetic testing is trying to determine who else in the family is at risk,” Aatre says. The United States and Gabon are the main two nations that permit experimentation with chimpanzees (ProCon.org). These screenings can accomplish a variety of things, including helping patients discern their risk for certain diseases and assisting expectant mothers in monitoring the health of their babies. That’s why, determine who else in the family is at risk, Should You Get At-Home Genetic Testing? comparable to humans on a genetic level. Mayo Clinic, Genetic Testing For example, the field known as pharmacogenetics helps doctors evaluate a patient’s DNA to assess which medication or clinical intervention will have the greatest effect and the lowest risk. MORE FROM MICHIGAN: Sign up for our weekly newsletter. Genetic testing is a type of medical test that identifies changes in chromosomes, genes, or proteins. The information can include disease predisposition and carrier status. And others who find out that they are carriers can take comfort in having more control. “Let’s say you find out your kid got something because you passed it down. “Most people, once they’ve understood that, want to do it,” says Aatre, who explained some of the pros and cons of genetic testing she discusses with patients: It offers insight: With genetic testing, “we’re targeting the coding part of the gene that is relevant to your particular disease,” Aatre says. Dorothy Pomerantz vividly remembers the email that changed her life. U.S. National Library of Medicine, What Is Genetic Testing? Pros: * The ability to obtain personal genetic information quickly and privately without a “prescription”. The Pros and Cons of Consumer Genetic Testing. Uncertainty is lessened: Worried about a future ailment? It is worth noting that all 50 states require basic genetic screening for newborn babies, which allows providers to evaluate for conditions such as sickle cell disease or hypothyroidism. While there are some clear advantages to genetic testing, there are also reasons for caution. But put into practice, genetic testing is more nuanced. On the surface, the concept seems like a no-brainer: A sample of blood or saliva can offer clues to your body’s genetic defects, a road map to predicting future problems ranging from Alzheimer’s disease to cancer. Results of genetic testing can often be uninformative and ultimately can cause more stress and anxiety over the possibility of a disease you may never get. Genetic testing or prenatal testing has its pros and cons but the pros of prenatal testing outweigh the cons. To learn more, check out these resources: Weighing the pros and cons of genetic testing means considering important ethical, legal, and medical issues. For those interested in learning more about genetic testing and pregnancy, some resources include: Genetic testing is also helpful in the treatment of different diseases. While the latter is more precise, it also entails some risk to the baby. On the plus side, it allows for planning for possible developmental issues, determine the viability of the fetus, and establish paternity. Ethical concerns fall along several lines. Genetic findings can also lead to increased anxiety even after children are born, as possible unseen health complications loom. “Some genes respond to certain medications and treatments better.” That, depending on circumstance, might lead to additional diagnostic testing or monitoring, healthful lifestyle shifts or getting family members tested. Well, to come up with a well-informed decision, it is important to understand what this procedure is all about and review the pros and cons that come with it. Read on to know more in detail about genetic testing. probability of an illness, is through genetic testing. The American Psychological Association (APA) describes instances of people connecting with biological half-siblings, particularly in cases involving sperm donation, or learning the identity of their biological fathers. Now, people have been wondering whether they should consider themselves undergoing genetic testing. 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