February 8, 2018
Reading the whole genetic blueprint of a fetus long before birth could become a routine procedure thanks to a new blood test. As genetics increasingly informs prospective parents' choices around conception, the test raises the prospect that it may soon become common to have an extensive understanding of a person’s genetic make-up before they are even born, New Scientist reports.
How It Works
A blood sample is taken from the mother in the first trimester, and the blood is separated to isolate fetal cells that have leaked into her circulation. The fetus’ entire genome can be sequenced from these cells, providing information about physical traits as well as disease risks.
Could be Misused
The idea is to give parents the choice to end the pregnancy if a severe genetic condition is detected, however, there are concerns that the test will lead to unnecessary terminations for less serious conditions or undesirable traits.
Ideally, the test will be used to detect serious genetic conditions that can be corrected before birth using gene therapies.