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What are the risks and limitations of genetic testing?

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What are the risks and limitations of genetic testing?

 

The physical risks associated with most genetic tests are very small, especially those that require only a blood sample or an oral smear (a method of sampling cells from the inner surface of the cheek). The procedures used for prenatal diagnostic testing (called amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling) carry a small but real risk of losing the pregnancy (miscarriage) because they require amniotic fluid or tissue samples from around the fetus.

 

Many of the risks associated with genetic testing involve the emotional, social, or economic consequences of the test results. People may feel angry, frustrated, anxious, or guilty about their results. In some cases, genetic testing can create tension within the family because the results can reveal information about other family members besides the person being tested. The potential for genetic discrimination in employment or insurance is also a concern. (For more information, see What is Genetic Discrimination?

 

Genetic testing can only provide limited information about genetic disorders. The test usually cannot determine whether a person will experience symptoms of the disease, the severity of the symptoms, or whether the disease will develop over time. Another major limitation is the lack of treatment strategies for many genetic diseases once diagnosed.

 

A geneticist can explain in detail the benefits, risks, and limitations of a specific test. It is important for anyone considering genetic testing to understand and weigh these factors before making a decision.

 

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