You can now order genetic tests off the Internet and get your child's genome sequenced for less than the cost of a new car. The question is, should you?
Almost certainly not, according to the American Society for Human Genetics, which released a position paper Thursday intended to give parents some help navigating the dizzying world of genetic tests.
"This is something that we don't think is ready for prime time for kids," says Dr. Jeffrey Botkin, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Utah and lead author of the paper.
Back in 1995, the last time the society, which includes genetic researchers and clinicians, offered recommendations on genetic tests for children, they were weighing the risks and benefits of testing for diseases caused by a single gene. They discouraged getting children and teenagers tested for mutations that increased the risk of disease in adulthood, like the newly discovered BRCA mutations that cause breast cancer.
"Families and kids end up dealing fairly well with that kind of predictive information," Botkin says. So the organization now says families should be given more leeway in making that own decision.