Addressing the Ethical Challenges in Genetic Testing and Sequencing of Children

American Journal of Bioethics 14 (3):3-9 (2014)
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Abstract

American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and American College of Medical Genetics (ACMG) recently provided two recommendations about predictive genetic testing of children. The Clinical Sequencing Exploratory Research Consortium's Pediatrics Working Group compared these recommendations, focusing on operational and ethical issues specific to decision making for children. Content analysis of the statements addresses two issues: (1) how these recommendations characterize and analyze locus of decision making, as well as the risks and benefits of testing, and (2) whether the guidelines conflict or come to different but compatible conclusions because they consider different testing scenarios. These statements differ in ethically significant ways. AAP/ACMG analyzes risks and benefits using best interests of the child and recommends that, absent ameliorative interventions available during childhood, clinicians should generally decline to order testing. Parents authorize focused tests. ACMG analyzes risks and benefits using the interests of the child and other family members and recommends that sequencing results be examined for additional variants that can lead to ameliorative interventions, regardless of age, which laboratories should report to clinicians who should contextualize the results. Parents must accept additional analysis. The ethical arguments in these statements appear to be in tension with each other.

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Author Profiles

Laurence McCullough
Baylor College of Medicine
Lainie Ross
University of Rochester
Susan Wolf
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill