Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Why tell asymptomatic children of the risk of an adult-onset disease in the family but not test them for it?
  1. P J Malpas
  1. Correspondence to:
 P J Malpas
 Department of Philosophy, University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland, New Zealand; p.malpas{at}


This paper first considers why it is important to give children genetic information about hereditary conditions in the family, which will go on to affect their lives in a salient way. If it is important to inform children that they are at risk for an adult-onset disease that exists in the family, why should they not also grow up knowing whether they actually carry the genetic mutation? Central to this discussion is the importance of the process of disclosure and the environment in which genetic information is divulged. It is concluded that the reasons given for defending disclosure of genetic conditions in the family to children are also important reasons to cautiously defend predictive genetic testing of children for adult-onset diseases.

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Funding: This work was funded by the Auckland Medical Research Foundation, Senior Scholarship.

  • Competing interests: None.

Other content recommended for you