Should children be tested?

There are those who have studied this issue, among them Diane Huffman and Eric Wulfsberg, and they come up with some fairly conservative recommendation. For example, this is one conclusion they draw:

"The availability of more and more genetic testing creates unique dilemmas for the patients, their children, and their healthcare providers. We advise caution in the administration of these tests to children when such testing is solely for predictive purposes. Professional associations must take a strong stand on this issue and should provide physicians with guidance as to when they should disclose the availability of tests for families as well as to when it would be appropriate to perform such tests. If a predictive test is appropriate for a child, based on established guidelines, safeguards must be in place to ensure accurate and informed decision making by parents and child, if sufficiently mature. And if predictive testing is done on a young child, resources should be made available to assist parents in keeping informed about their child's condition and any beneficial interventions that may be developed." (bibl.2)

So, children and the testing of children are extremely problematic. For example, what if a child tests positive for a late onset disease, something like breast cancer or even Alzheimer's Disease, which is much later? At what age should that child be told? And what effect will this have on the child's development? And will the harms of the information outweigh any possible benefit, especially when we have no treatment for either of these conditions?


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