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Biotech Science

NIH Studies Universal Genome Sequencing At Birth 128

sciencehabit writes "In a few years, all new parents may go home from the hospital with not just a bundle of joy, but with something else—the complete sequence of their baby's DNA. A new research program funded at $25 million over 5 years by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will explore the promise—and ethical challenges—of sequencing every newborn's genome."
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NIH Studies Universal Genome Sequencing At Birth

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 06, 2013 @06:39AM (#44773137)

    So, given the NHS's catastrophic record for IT projects, how do we know that they won't fuck this up?

    We know that in the UK at least, public procurement projects are really nothing more than a trough for greedy well-connected insiders to gorge themselves on public money. BT, CSC, Fujitsu and friends buggered the taxpayer absolutely rotten (to the tune of £12 BILLION), the last time they were allowed to get their grubby mitts on publicly-funded IT projects, during the Connecting for Health catastrophe.

    Additionally, how do we know if the gene sequence data collected is sufficient to be useful in the future? Current sequencing methods _do_ have limitations, and not everything can be sequenced. Even though the cost of sequencing a genome is crashing through the floor, how are they convinced this isn't a waste of money?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 06, 2013 @07:12AM (#44773279)

    It shouldn't be legally possible for a person to make a decision about whether to take on legal parental responsibilities while being possibly deceived about whether they are the biological parent. That situation is no different, not in any relevant way, than getting a switched baby home from the hospital - something everyone can obviously see is horrible when it happens to women. So automatic parental certainty as a consequence of such DNA tests isn't a problem - it's a solution to a problem.

  • Re:No. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 06, 2013 @07:18AM (#44773309)

    You worry about insurance companies getting accurate data so that they can compute the true cost of the risk that a customer carries. If you feel that isn't appropriate, then what you want is not insurance. Insurance is the pricing of risk. What you want is pooled expenses, which is what government programs is about - despite the wide-spread misunderstanding, that's not the service that insurance is supposed to offer. Insurance prices your individual risk while pooled expenses lets everyone pay for other people's risk. The two are fundamentally different. If you oppose giving insurance companies accurate information, then you are saying, whether you know it or not, that you don't want health care to be handled using an insurance model - you want a government solution using pooled expenses. Which would also solve your problem of worrying about insurability.

  • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Friday September 06, 2013 @08:58AM (#44773787)

    Yes, it seems silly to wait till birth. That is too late to deal with many genetic problems. With earlier testing, the parents will also have the option of aborting if the genetic problems are severe. In days gone by, prenatal testing, such as amniocentesis, was invasive and could cause problems. But there are now several non-invasive prenatal tests which employ DNA sequencing of fragments of fetal DNA in the mother's blood.

There's no such thing as a free lunch. -- Milton Friendman