New Test Shows Diseases Your Baby Will Get Later in Life: Do You Want to Know?

Health Check 8

newbornA 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.

More from The Stir: The 1 Important Test Every Baby Should Get After Birth

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

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adamat34 adamat34

I May. If its something horrible yet preventable And treatable. If its like something manageable and chronic...prolly noy

nonmember avatar Nikki

No. These tests are not always right. That's like knowing when you are going to die and that just gives people another sorry excuse to abort their baby because down the road they may not be able to "live life to the fullest"

Daisy... DaisyJupes

Yes, I would like to know. My mom ended up with breast cancer before her first mammogram. If she wasn't a paranoid person, she probably wouldn't have been looking for it. She also had cervical and ovarian cancer and if I didn't know she did, I wouldn't have made an appointment to see my doctor over a few abnormal symptoms at just 21. Turns out, my doctor is worried. Or endometriosis might be played off as something women have to suck up with periods, rather than "hey, maybe I shouldn't be puking when I get cramps or when I'm ovulating or have extreme leg pain 24/7 when I'm on my period." Parkinson's runs in my family (dad's mom) and I would certainly like to know what I need to watch for. Early treatment keeps it in the early stages longer. If you've ever seen a Parkinson's patient, they have about 20 years from typical diagnosis and the last 10 are as confused mostly vegetables in a chair. I'm constantly watching my dad for signs after seeing my stepdad diagnosed after a year of things that didn't worry him (he's pretty bad now). I'd rather know he has it so that it won't be ignored when small symptoms pop up (like acting weird).

erica-3 erica-3

Unless it was something easily treatable or preventable, no way. I'm way too much of a worrier and I'd spend too much time focused on the possibility that my child could get some horrible disease instead of just enjoying them and other aspects of my life. I'd also worry about every single "symptom" that would come up.

youth... youthfulsoul

Hard to say really. What a mixed blessing that might be.

MamaD... MamaDV1012

Nope, it would just cause unnecessary worry and panic.  If symptoms present themselves, we will address them at that time.  Genetic makeup is not what is important, it is gene expression that matters.  I don't think we know enough about this process to even offer testing at this point.  Seems like a waste to me. 

Freela Freela

Since predisposition is not destiny, I don't know if knowing your child's predispositions later on in life would be all that helpful.  Most of the things that they would advise you do to minimize risk are things you should do anyhow... eat healthy, get exercise, don't smoke, etc.  I'll pitch those same life lessons to my kids and hope they listen whether they are predisposed to health conditions or not!

wendy... wendywendy

We'd do it.  Our daughter is from a donated embryo and not genetically related to us.  Although we have some medical information, it is not current, meaning that if some heath issue has surfaced in the last 14 years, we wouldn't know.

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