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As Prenatal Testing Grows, So Do Concerns About its Use

While the use of non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) for medical applications is widely supported among healthcare professionals, ethical concerns around its non-medical use persist, according to a study appearing this week in the European Journal of Human Genetics. To better understand attitudes to the technology in the medical field, a team led by scientists from the University of Quebec and the University of Montreal interviewed 10 healthcare professionals and surveyed dozens more about their feelings regarding NIPT. The researchers find strong consensus that NIPT's use for medical applications including fetal aneuploidies and monogenic diseases should be expanded. Study participants, however, had less favorable attitudes to NIPT for non-medical use such as sex determination or paternity testing as well as for generating risk predisposition information. Specific concerns included ones related to eugenics, child privacy, and emotional burdens to would-be parents. "As the expansion of NIPT uses seems to be imminent, further research is needed to explore what conditions should be offered to couples or parents and based on which criteria," the study's authors conclude. "It will be important as a society to engage in these discussions to allow a most ethically responsible clinical implementation of NIPT."

The Scan

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