Many of the birth defects that are seen today in hospitals around the world are because of genetic disorders. Although the human genome has been mapped and medicine can effectively predict which children are at the highest risks of disease and defect, there is still a certain unpredictability to the fetal development process. Genetic testing is the one area where definitive information can be obtained about the future welfare of anyone. Is genetic testing something medical science should advance? Here are some pros and cons to think about.
The Pros of Genetic Testing
1. It allows people to know what to expect in the future.
By having genetic tests completed on themselves or their children, people will know what kind of challenges they may be facing in their future. This allows them to prepare in advance for potential difficulties, cope with the information without being surprised by it, and then be able to move on when necessary.
2. It provides solutions for health issues.
Genetic testing has saved the lives of millions over the years. Children born with diseases that retain certain food elements, such as galactose, can eat a specific diet that will prevent them from having the substance build up to fatal levels. Before genetic tests, 75% of children born with galactose retention problems would die from it.
3. It opens up new avenues of medical research.
Genetic testing can be completed on any living thing, including viruses and bacteria. By mapping the genetics of a virus, for example, more effective vaccines could be created. Bacterial genetic mapping could lead to more effective antibiotics.
The Cons of Genetic Testing
1. It is still in its beginning stages.
Although genetic testing has become an effective diagnostic tool, that’s about all it is. People can receive confirmation of a disease, disorder, or defect, but most of the time that’s all they’ll receive. Many genetic disorders have no effective method of treatment and there are virtually no cures in this area of science.
2. It might inspire someone to abort a pregnancy.
A positive genetic test could cause a mother to decide to abort a pregnancy. Although this may be seen as a merciful, positive outcome by some women, others may be left with emotional concerns regarding their decision over the course of a lifetime.
3. It can be incredibly expensive.
Many genetic tests are covered by health insurance, but that doesn’t change the fact that many of them cost thousands of dollars to complete. For households that don’t have insurance or are on high deductible plans, these are costs that could become very untenable.
Genetic testing can give doctors and patients the information they need. It could lead to better medical knowledge in the future. There are costs, however, that must be paid by someone every time a genetic test is authorized. By weighing the pros and cons of genetic testing, every unique situation can get a more informed answer to the journey that should be followed in this subject area.