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When to Share?

When parents find out that they harbor genetic variants that increase their risk of developing breast cancer, they wonder about whether and when to tell their children, the New York Times writes.

Anabel Getz tells the Times that she learned at age 15 that a BRCA risk variant ran in her family. "I have so much time to make peace with what might happen and make decisions if I test positive," Getz, now 19, has not yet been tested says. At the same time, Jenna Stoller told her mother that knowing that the variant ran in the family — her mother told her when she was preparing for surgery herself — but not if she had it was more stressful than learning she did have it. Ann Little adds when she found out about her risk, she told her three eldest children, but not her youngest, who was 13 at the time.

The Times notes that experts suggest using the child's age, maturity level, and personality as a guide. Some note that parents should first get the support they need because if they seem anxious, then their children likely will be, too. The Times also says genetic testing isn't recommended until the age of 25, when MRIs and mammograms are also encouraged for at-risk women. At younger ages, there's also a worry that children might not understand what their risk means, it adds.