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Prenatal DNA testing brings with it big ethical questions

Publication Date: 
June 20, 2011
Source: 
New York Daily News
Author: 
Daily News Staff Writer

Professor Hank Greely is quoted in the New York Daily News on how new prenatal DNA tests may eventually be able to test up to 100 to 200 diseases over the next 10 years.

Imagine being pregnant and taking a simple blood test that lays bare the DNA of your fetus.

And suppose that DNA could reveal not only medical conditions like Down syndrome, but also things like eye color and height. And the risk for developing depression or Alzheimer's disease. And the chances of being gay.

So far that's still science fiction. But scientists have been taking some baby steps in that direction. And some ethics experts say it's time to start talking now about what that could mean for parents and society.

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Within five to 10 years, doctors may be able to test for 100 or 200 diseases, albeit many of them rare, estimates Stanford University law professor Hank Greely, who studies the implications of biomedical technologies.