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Advantages & Disadvantages of Genetic Testing for Parents

by
author image Cynthia Myers
Cynthia Myers is the author of numerous novels and her nonfiction work has appeared in publications ranging from "Historic Traveler" to "Texas Highways" to "Medical Practice Management." She has a degree in economics from Sam Houston State University.
Advantages & Disadvantages of Genetic Testing for Parents
Genetic testing examines your DNA and you may be relieved discussing results with your doctor. Photo Credit Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images

Overview

Human DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid, contains the code for making you you. You receive half your DNA from your father and half from your mother. Scientists know certain patterns in DNA point to a greater risk for certain diseases or birth defects. If two people who carry a gene for a particular disease or birth defect have a child, there's a greater chance the child will be at risk for that disease or defect. Genetic testing can identify whether you and your mate carry genetic material that could put your child at risk.

Peace of Mind

For people who know a deadly disease--such as ALS or sickle cell anemia--runs in their family, learning they do not carry the gene for the disease can bring them peace of mind.

Early Treatment

Some genetic testing may reveal you carry a gene that puts you at greater risk of developing a disease. Knowing this, you can seek additional testing or treatment that could save your life.

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Expense

Genetic testing, and the counseling that usually goes along with it, may not be covered by your medical insurance. Testing can be expensive, depending on how many tests you have and what the test is looking for.

Increased Uncertainty

Even if genetic testing determines both you and your mate carry genes that put your child at risk, you have no way of knowing for certain if a child you conceived would ever become ill. Genetics plays only a partial role in some diseases, and not every child who inherits genes that makes him susceptible will develop the disease. If you decide not to have a child as the result of genetic testing, you may wonder if you made the right decision.

False Sense of Security

A genetic test that shows you and your spouse don't both carry harmful genes does not guarantee your child won't develop the illness you fear or another serious illness.

Privacy

The results of medical tests are supposed to remain private, but UK Healthcare points out the possibility lingers that insurance companies or future employers might obtain information about your medical history, including the results of genetic testing. You might be denied insurance or employment based on the test results.

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References

Demand Media