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Milbank Q. 1996;74(2):239-83.

The new genetics and women.

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  • 1Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, University of Chicago, IL 60637, USA.


The U.S. Human Genome Project (HGP) is a federally funded effort to produce a detailed genetic and physical map of all human chromosomes. Because of their central role in reproduction and caregiving, women are likely to be affected differently, and more significantly, by the information the HGP generates. It is important to identify inequities that may emerge from gender differences and to consider ways in which they may be avoided, reduced, or overcome. Although this type of analysis is one of the goals of the Ethical, Legal, and Social Issues Program of the National Center for Human Genome Research, few studies have focused explicitly on the impact of the HGP on women. This article describes the potential impact of the "new genetics" on women. Identification of gender differences as they affect both research and clinical practice and the psychosocial, legal, and ethical implications of the HGP should evoke and inform public discussion and policies that may be generated by these issues.

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