Ethics in the era of genetic testing

Tags: ethics, genetic testing

While I’m at home trying desperately to figure out how to set adequate parental protections on out Internet browsers and restrict my kids’ access to any and all Showtime original series on streaming Netflix, researchers at Baylor College of Medicine are posing some challenging ethical questions physicians are ever more likely to face. What if you tested a patient’s genes and found that he or she was likely the child of an incestuous relationship? What would your ethical responsibility be?

The BCM researchers write in the Feb. 12 issue of The Lancet that they have witnessed several of these cases while performing genomic tests on children. The topic is broad, with various implications regarding the age of the parents at the time of conception, their relational status, the possibility of criminal behavior or abuse, not to mention the emotional stigma and distress involved for the patient.

With all the promise genetic testing holds for understanding, identifying, and treating various conditions and disease states, the ethical ramifications are staggering, and this is just one particularly interesting and puzzling question to explore. Check out the article: We’d be interested to know your thoughts, so use the comment feature. What are your thoughts on the ethics of finding evidence of incestuous parentage through genetic testing, or just the ethics of genetic testing in general?

– Jonathan N

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