A long time ago, parents used to see each new baby born into the world as a blank slate. Now, though, we know that each baby comes home with a genetic recipe handed down from their family. What if you could get those genes checked out right after your baby is born and find out what diseases and conditions your new child might have or get? New studies are giving us a peek at newborn babies' DNA -- and you might even get to try it out. But do you really want to know?
Researchers are working on a project that examines the DNA of thousands of babies. Right now the study is taking place outside Washington, DC, but soon other infant DNA studies will spread to cities around the country. And mapping out a new baby's DNA to pinpoint possible health risks could become a routine part of newborn care.
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Supposedly you won't get all of your baby's genes mapped out -- just the ones that will give you a heart attack. Just kidding! Just information about genes for conditions that are treatable or preventable. Actually, we already typically take blood from newborns to test for some 30 rare diseases. Supposedly, this new genetic testing will go way beyond that.
So ... would you want to know if your new baby is genetically predisposed for breast cancer someday? I can see how knowing what to expect could help parents and doctors improve their child's health by leaps and bounds. Imagine how differently you would feel as your child reaches (or doesn't reach) each new expected milestone. There might be some delays you're prepared to deal with -- emotionally and practically.
But would this also cause us a lot of unnecessary worrying? I can see how many of us would rather deal with whatever health issues actually manifest when they manifest, rather than fretting over everything that could happen. Don't we do enough of that as it is?
I don't know, I think I'm more inclined to having more information.
Would you get this genetic testing done if you could, or would you rather not know?
Image via Nina Matthews/Flickr