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Clin Genet. 2006 Nov;70(5):374-81.

Presymptomatic and predictive genetic testing in minors: a systematic review of guidelines and position papers.

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  • 1Centre for Biomedical Ethics and Law, Universiteit Leuven, Leuven, Belgium. Pascal.Borry@med.kuleuven.be

Abstract

The objective of this study is to review ethical and clinical guidelines and position papers concerning the presymptomatic and predictive genetic testing of minors. The databases Medline, Philosopher's Index, Biological Abstracts, Web of Science and Google Scholar were searched using keywords relating to the presymptomatic and predictive testing of children. We also searched the websites of the national bioethics committees indexed on the websites of World Health Organization (WHO) and the German Reference Centre for Ethics in the Life Sciences, the websites of the Human Genetics Societies of various nations indexed on the website of the International Federation of Human Genetics Societies and related links and the national medical associations indexed on the website of the World Medical Association. We retrieved 27 different papers dealing with guidelines or position papers that fulfilled our search criteria. They encompassed the period 1991-2005 and originated from 31 different organizations. The main justification for presymptomatic and predictive genetic testing was the direct benefit to the minor through either medical intervention or preventive measures. If there were no urgent medical reasons, all guidelines recommend postponing testing until the child could consent to testing as a competent adolescent or as an adult. Ambiguity existed for childhood-onset disorders for which preventive or therapeutic measures are not available and for the timing of testing for childhood-onset disorders. Although the guidelines covering presymptomatic and predictive genetic testing of minors agree strongly that medical benefit is the main justification for testing, a lack of consensus remains in the case of childhood-onset disorders for which preventive or therapeutic measures are not available.

PMID:
17026616
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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