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The Baby's Sequence

Some parents don't want to know if their unborn child is a boy or a girl, while others chose to know and some want to know all they can. Razib Khan, a graduate student at the University of California, Davis, and blogger at Unz, sequenced his son's genome before he was born, MIT's Technology Review reports.

"We did a work-around," Khan tells Tech Review. "There is no map for doing this, and there's no checklist."

Indeed, Tech Review notes that there is only one report of a child previously born with its genome sequenced, but the child suffered from severe genetic problems and lived only a few days. Khan's son, by contrast, is healthy, and Khan says that sequencing his child "was more cool than practical."

Further, Tech Review adds that that Khan wanted to show where the field is heading.

But it isn't quite there yet. Khan encountered resistance from genetic counselors and testing labs. "They did try to discourage us. Like, 'Why would you do it? There are no protocols. There are no reasons,'" he says. "They do not want infants born sequenced." Some worry that parents seeing a mutation may take "irrevocable action," such as a termination, even though some people with mutations linked to disease don't show symptoms.

In the end, he was able, after filling out some paperwork, to get excess sample collected when his wife underwent CVS testing. He then added it to an empty spot in a DNA sequencer in his lab. He then used Promethease to analyze the results — the raw data took up raw about 43 gigabytes, Tech Review notes.

Khan says his son's genome is "mostly pretty boring. So that is good."

The Scan

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