Genetic Testing Child

Never before have so many people been so concerned with living long and well, eating right and obtaining the best and most comprehensive health care available. With genetic testing now available to the general public, people can use the information in their DNA to lead their healthiest lives possible.

What to eat, what to avoid, what to talk to your doctor about – think what you may have done differently with access to your genetic information when you were younger. Having your child take a genetic test at an early age can help him or her lead a long and healthy life, making informed decisions about their health.

Genes are forever. Genetic information that will last a lifetime is available from the moment you’re born — for some tests, even before. With this being the case, many parents choose to learn their child’s genetic information as soon as possible.

Genetic Testing for Children

The benefits of genetic testing are undeniable. Think back to when your child was born. No, not the sleepless nights, but that heel stick that likely caused your child’s first howls. Right there was your child’s first genetic test for inherited metabolic disorders and diseases. Genetic testing for newborns is performed in every state, and the test is private — only you have access to the results.

While many genetic conditions only develop when a person is well into adulthood, a DNA test will let you know what’s in store when it comes to your child’s health. If you have a family history of genetic mutations, you or your partner are a carrier of inherited disease, or you just wish to ensure your child is healthy, you may want to consider learning more about your child’s genetic information by having your child take a DNA test.

DNA Tests and Genetic Information

While there are more than 900 different genetic tests, genetic testing for children usually falls into one of the following categories:

  • Carrier screening is taken by people who do not have a genetic disease, but might still pass on the gene for it.
  • Preventive screening determines whether you or your child will develop a disease later in life, or be at risk for certain conditions like Alzheimer’s Disease and some cancers.
  • Newborn screening, mentioned earlier, is done to test a newborn baby for genetic mutations, many of which can be treated immediately.

Using Your Child’s Genetic Information

If a specific genetic mutation is found in your child’s DNA, the condition may be able to be addressed at a young age, or even immediately. Once your child is old enough to understand, it is important to explain to your child why he or she may need further genetic testing.

Honesty and openness are the best policies. Hiding information for a long time, even if you think it’s in the child’s best interests, can cause resentment and confusion.

Look at it this way – would you keep a family history of inherited cancer a secret from a child old enough to understand? More than likely, the answer is no. A genetic test is just an advanced family history – one more weapon in preventative care.

A 2007 study found that the majority of mothers who discovered they are carriers of the BRCA gene – which puts them at high risk for breast cancer — were open with their children about the results and the risks. According to the Fox Chase Cancer Center’s Family Risk Assessment Program in Philadelphia, of the 42 women interviewed, 55 percent decided discussed the result with at least one of their children.

Using a Genetic Counselor

A genetic counselor is a health care professional that specializes in analyzing medical genetics and counseling people after they receive their DNA test results. You will likely see a genetic counselor before your child is tested, especially if the child isn’t sick. Counselors are indispensable when it comes to talking to both adults and children about a positive test result. They can help you deal with the results and explore treatment options.

Genetics’ Effect on Child Development and Behavior

Experts say that DNA plays a large part in a child’s development. While you may treat all of your children the same way, some of them may be happy and successful and some of them, despite receiving the same treatment and growing up in the same environment, may be resentful, unhappy, or struggle at school or in the workplace.

Obtaining a child’s genetic information through genetic testing can possibly help parents know what to expect. The gene variant that scientists look for is the one that allows children to learn from their mistakes. About 30 percent of people lack that capability, genomic scientists now say. This information can prepare you to raise your child.

Genetic Testing and Diet

A genetic test can also “personalize” a diet for your child, a process that is called nutrigenetics. This means that, using your child’s genetic information, you can give your child a diet that can best suit their genetic needs.

Since everyone is different, what’s best for one person isn’t necessarily what’s best for another. The science of nutrigenetics, or food technology, can help you put your child on the road to a long and healthful life.

Resources

Begley, S. (2008). But I did everything right! Retrieved December 8, 2008, from the Newsweek Web site: http://www.newsweek.com/id/151758.

Bionet. (2002). Who owns your genes? Types of genetic testing. Retrieved December 8, 2008, from the Bionet Web site: http://www.bionetonline.org/english/Content/gh_cont1.htm.

Integrated Health Care. (n.d.). Nutrigenetic testing, already approved for routine use? Retrieved December 8, 2008, from the Integrated Health Care Web site: http://www.integratedhealthcare.eu/index.php?option=com_content