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A team has been able to predict the whole genetic code of a foetus by taking a blood sample from a woman who was 18 weeks pregnant, and a swab of saliva from the father. They believe that, in time, the test will become widely available, enabling doctors to screen unborn babies for some 3,500 genetic disorders. At the moment the only genetic disorder routinely tested for on the NHS is Down’s syndrome.
By contrast, the scientists say their new test would identify far more conditions, caused by genetic errors.
However, they warned it raised “many ethical questions” because the results could be used as a basis for abortion.
These concerns were last night amplified by pro-life campaigners, who said widespread use of such a test would “inevitably lead to more abortions”.
The American scientists were able to map the baby’s genetic code principally from tiny traces free-floating DNA, which makes its way into the mother’s blood. Blood sample DNA from the mother was also studied as well as DNA extracted from the father's saliva.
Fitting pieces of the genetic jigsaw together, scientists in the US were able to reconstruct the entire genetic code of an unborn baby boy.
They were then able to see what spontaneous genetic mutations had arisen.
Such natural mutations - called ‘de novo’ mutations - are responsible for the majority of genetic defects.
By checking their prediction of the baby’s genetic code with actual DNA taken after the birth, the team from the University of Washington in Seattle, found they were able to identify 39 of 44 such mutations in the child.
De novo mutations are thought to play a role in a number of complex conditions such as autism and schizophrenia.
Originally posted by ravenshadow13
Abortion is one thing, but being linked to your genetic code before you are even born is another. This information could be associated with your social security number or other identifying information in some sort of database and then used for various things later on (like determining health insurance or life insurance rates). It's pretty bad, especially given that just because you have a certain sequence for an allele does not mean the allele will be expressed.
It's called epigenetics and ontogeny, folks.
Originally posted by Wertdagf
reply to post by snarky412
YEAH who doesnt want to be born with a horrible birth defect?
Right?!?!?! i mean getting to live for a few years and then dying a horrible death is the kind of thing everyone wants...
I know what.. we will keep track of all the birth defects weeded out by artifical genetic selection.. and then we can give them all to you... so you can enjoy them,