Family History of Disease Scares Parents More Than Genetic Test Results

Family History of Disease Scares Parents More Than Genetic Test Results

by Dr. Hsien-Hsien Lei
Posted November 6, 2008 in DNA Testing, DNA and Disease

image Should parents purchase direct-to-consumer genetic tests for their under-age children? Joanna Mountain, Senior Director of Research at 23andMe, chose to do so for her two sons and found it to be a positive experience overall (of course!). I have not done so for my two children and haven’t even done so for myself. Just call me chicken.

In a timely study published in the November issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, researchers at the University of Michigan CS Mott Children’s Hospital staged a hypothetical situation and randomized over 1,300 parents to receive hypothetical genetic risk assessments framed as family history or genetic test results. They found that parents were actually more worried if they had observable, tangible evidence of a family history of disease than if the results were purely based on genetic tests.

So it seems that nothing strikes fear into our hearts more than knowing that a family member is ill and that we may also have inherited an increased susceptibility to the illness. While genes may be floating around in our consciousness, they remain an abstract concept that most of us are not able to include in our daily risk analyses.

NB: Daniel MacArthur at Genetic Future has more on genome scans for the whole family although he considers it mainly from a business perspective than from one as a parents since he isn’t one yet.

via Los Angeles Times

Photo credit: Wellcome Images

(3 comments)


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3 Comments

Comment by SciPhu

Nice post ! I have had some thoughts on this from a parent perspective, aligns well with the study you are referring to: http://tinyurl.com/5u4xqs

Comment by Steven Murphy M.D. Subscribed to comments via email

Hsien,
I am not certain that fear is what was studied. Concern was studied. I think that what this study shows is how absolutely unable to quantify risk most of the public is….once again speaking against DTC testing and interpretation……

-Steve
http://www.thegenesherpa.blogspot.com

 
 

[...] children’s risks for genetic disease. With the development of genetic testing and, too, of direct-to-consumer genetic tests, parents can find out a lot more about their genetic profile and quite [...]

 

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