Current knowledge does not justify universal genetic tests for newborns, scientists and ethicists affirms
As discussed in an article in The Lancet, Francis Collins, director of the United States National Institutes of Health – NIH, said in 2014 that “over the course of the next few decades, the availability of cheap, efficient DNA technology will lead to a medical landscape in which each baby’s genome is sequenced, and that information is used to shape a lifetime of personalized strategies for disease prevention, detection and treatment”. However, according to the latest report from the Hastings Center, an independent bioethics research institute (see HERE), this could raise ethical objections. According to the report, sequencing can be used for two purposes, diagnosis and screening, and in three contexts: clinical practice, public health and services that may be offered to these children in adulthood.
Risk of a universal genetic test in newborns
Several health professionals have warned of the potential danger of the aforementioned sequencing for those children, a view supported by other bioethical groups in Europe and the United Kingdom, as they believe that current knowledge does not justify universal genomic screening for newborns. They consider that there are important problems, both scientific and ethical, that must be resolved before it can be used on a broad scale, because although these techniques have great potential to improve health care – especially in the field of personalized medicine – it is too soon to use them in medical and non-medical contexts. Thus, more robust research needs to be conducted to better understand these technical processes and to obviate the negative consequences of sequencing.