Genetic Testing is an ethical issue?


Hello Everyone!

I am currently in Peds class. We have to write an ethical paper about anything related to Children. My teacher had mentioned about genetic testing as an ethical issue. I don't get why "Genetic Testing" might be an ethical issue?

Can someone please give me some of the examples of "Genetic Testing" that involves in an ethical issue?


Specializes in Oncology/hematology. Has 5 years experience.

If you test the embryo- and find out that it has some congenital defect- do you abort?... The gentic testing leads to ethical dillemas... like Alzheimer testing- maybe the person will decide not to get married or have kids...


1,188 Posts

Has 14 years experience.

You get genetic testing done, and you find out you're a carrier for a certain disease, and so is your spouse. What happens then? Do you not have any more kids? If your insurance finds out, is it considered a pre-existing condition?

Say you find out through genetic testing that the women in your family have a gene that has a high risk of breast cancer. How do you handle that information? Do you test your young daughters? If you do and they test positive, do you tell a 10 year old that she might die of breast cancer at age 40? What sort of lifestyle do you live with that child? Do you implement an "anti-cancer" diet (ie, making sure the child stays a certain weight, eating low fat, eating foods known to reduce cancer risk)? Do you recommend she have a mastectomy at a young age (20, for example), in an effort to prevent breast cancer?


905 Posts

Screening can also take place in the school environment, particularly for learning disabilities such as fragile-X syndrome. This kind of screening is particularly difficult to justify in terms of the child's health, as no treatment is available for this condition that has any kind of empirical validation, and frequently the symptoms are too mild to justify remedial teaching. The only result is that frequently the child feels marginalised, and the expectations that he or she has of him- or herself fall in relation to those that others have of them. I experienced something similar to this when a friend of mine was diagnosed as having mild dyslexia in the last year of primary school. This dyslexia essentially translated itself as nothing more severe than scrappy spelling and the odd inversion of letters or numbers, but the diagnosis gave her an excuse not to keep trying, and her teachers seemed happy to accept this. At the end of the day, she gained very little except a label from the whole experience.

In his recent book, Re-Making Eden (1998), Princeton biologist, Lee Silver celebrates the coming future of human 'enhancement', in which the health, appearance, personality, cognitive ability, sensory capacity, and life-span of our children all become artifacts of genetic engineering, literally selected from a catalog. Silver acknowledges that the costs of these technologies will limit their full use to only a small 'elite', so that over time society will segregate into the "GenRich" and the "Naturals":

Genetic testing leads to genetic intervention. There are some ethical issues involving unintended concequences and that those who live with consequences are not the ones that made the decision to do it. Pleiotropy, epigenetics, V(D)J recombination, jumping genes (McClintock's research), Weismann barrier and single genes playing very different roles at different times (in utero vs after puberty). "Junk DNA" has turned out to be important (HERVs). It is not just theory... the genetic therapy for SCID caused leukemia, and the genetic changes that caused supersmart doogie mice also caused an increase in pain sensitivity.


114 Posts

Look up preimplantation genetic testing on embryos.

You got some great responses to your question OP. I'm not trying to personally call you out here, but it scares the heck out of me when I see nursing students who can't figure out why a situation is an ethical dilemma. Place yourself into the most conservative mind set possible when these things come up. It doesn't have to be an ethical dilemma for you, but it will be for somebody, and you have to be able to understand, respect, and negotiate the issue.


23 Posts

When my wife was tested with our son (10 years ago) we were told he had an extremely high chance of having a serious mental illness (I think it was down syndrome, but don't remember) and the doctor actually advised us to abort. We told him that we were going to love our child no matter what difficulties that he may have and had the baby anyway. My son not only DOESN'T have any mental problems, but is in the top 10% of his class. We are SO glad we didn't pay attention to that doc... :lol2: