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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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  • No. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by some old guy ( 674482 ) on Friday September 06, 2013 @06:42AM (#44773149)

    If no compelling medical issue requires sequencing in a newborn, it is invasive and coercive to conduct it.

    Any possible beneficial result is overshadowed by the inevitable abuse and misuse of the results. All I can see is creating a brand for each new child that will influence and determine decisions that may in fact have no significant scientific bearing. Predisposition is not certainty, and decisions based on uncertainty are, well, stupid.

    I'll be damned if I want my grandchildren automatically genome-branded by the government to the detriment of their education, employment, and insurability.

  • by Rande ( 255599 ) on Friday September 06, 2013 @06:56AM (#44773199) Homepage

    The problem of the screams and arguments when the father finds out at the hospital that the child isn't biologically his.
    Even 1% [] will mean that the report won't automatically be given to the parents, or perhaps only a synopsis.

  • Re:No. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 06, 2013 @07:09AM (#44773257)

    The question really is: Is there a compelling medical reason to sequence a newborn?

    I know the VA was looking into the possibility of sequencing all military personnel. The idea was if military personnel had it coming in, then it could be analyzed and they could start predicting which medicines would work well for that person and which wouldn't. To have that all known upfront could make battlefield medicine a whole lot more effective, reduce the chances of allergic reactions, and provide better care.

    In some situations they do it now and it does lower costs by allowing them to avoid ineffective drugs for that person. There's still a lot to learn and obviously a lot of drugs they have no idea what the impact is. Since the federal government doesn't have to pay the portion of fees that covers intellectual property if the federal government funded the research, they think this could save a ton of money.

    Incidentally, when ObamaCare was being debated, most of the people I know familiar with this hoped that health insurance would be nationalized (for other reasons), but a convenient side effect would be it would quickly be cost effective to sequence the average American's DNA allowing them to provide better care.

    Obviously there are huge privacy and discrimination concerns, but there is a real possibility for a medical benefit so I think there needs to be some debate.

  • by staalmannen ( 1705340 ) on Friday September 06, 2013 @08:33AM (#44773639)
    The scary thing is that such information is already now witheld from the fathers also when the results are negative in standard genetic screenings (genetic risk assessments, donor profile, ...). The positive part is that the frequencies are lower than commonly cited. []

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