Ethical issues as scientists peek into baby genes
WASHINGTON (AP) - Little Amelia Sloan is a pioneer: Shortly after her birth, scientists took drops of the healthy baby's blood to map her genetic code.
Amelia is part of a large research project that is decoding the DNA of hundreds of infants. New parents soon can start signing up for smaller studies to explore if what's called genome sequencing - fully mapping someone's genes to look for health risks - should become a part of newborn care.
It's full of ethical challenges.
Should parents be told only about childhood threats? Or would they also want to learn if their babies carried a key gene for, say, breast cancer after they're grown? Could knowing about future risks alter how a family treats an otherwise healthy youngster? And how accurate is this technology - could it raise too many false alarms? This is the newest frontier in the genetic revolution: how early to peek into someone's DNA, and how to make use of this health forecast without causing needless worry.