The paper by Mand et al raises important questions about the predictive genetic testing of children. They focus on those claims made by professionals that are open to empirical enquiry and give too little weight to those claims that do not require empirical support. The authors remind us that some commentators oppose empirical enquiry because of the concern that gathering evidence of the consequences of such testing may itself be harmful or unethical. They respond by asserting that the relevant research questions are ‘eminently testable’ but fail to discuss the challenges of such research, including the questions of timescale, consent or the nature of the data whose collection (they assert) would resolve the perceived difficulties with the genetic testing of children. They conclude that empirical research is required without resolving the weighty arguments against predictive testing of young children or explaining how the evidence they wish to collect could overcome the force of the arguments that favour caution.
- Clinical genetics
- social science research on genetics
- newborn screening
- genetic counselling
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Competing interests None.
Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.