Groningen University’s teaching hospital is to offer a number of couples genetic tests to determine the risk of their child developing one of 50 untreatable hereditary illnesses, the NRC says on Thursday.
The test to determine if the couple may pass on a genetic disorder to their offspring is carried out pre-pregnancy. It looks at the potential mutations in 70 genes, which are together responsible for 50 serious medical conditions, the paper says.
The test will first be offered to would-be parents attending 15 different GP practices in Groningen. In preliminary research, 30% of the couples said they would be interested in taking part.
The researchers expect one in 150 couples will be told there is at least a 25% chance their child will have one of the 50 conditions under investigation, the paper says.
‘These are conditions which no one wants and which no one would wish on a child,’ chief researcher Irene van Langen said. Once the principle of testing has been established, there is likely to be an ethical discussion about which other diseases should be added into the programme, Van Langen told the paper.
There are a number of commercial companies developing and offering genetic testing for prospective parents.
Some people are already offered pre-pregnancy tests because certain medical conditions are common in their community.
In the Netherlands, for example, Amsterdam’s two teaching hospitals are working on genetic testing in Volendam, where a number of hereditary conditions are more common than in the rest of the country.
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