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Parents' responses to predictive genetic testing in their children: report of a single case study.
  1. S Michie,
  2. V McDonald,
  3. M Bobrow,
  4. C McKeown,
  5. T Marteau
  1. Psychology and Genetics Research Group, United Medical School, Guy's Hospital, London, UK.


    There is a widely held view among health professionals that predictive genetic testing of children for late onset diseases is not desirable clinical practice. Yet, little is known about the views of parents, or their responses, to predictive genetic testing in their children. Since such testing is being carried out in some genetic centres, the opportunity was taken to conduct a single case study of the parents of 2 and 4 year old sisters who were tested for the gene for familial adenomatous polyposis. Interviews before testing, after, and 15 months later showed a stable attitude, that parental responsibility included making decisions about such testing, and that the role of health professionals should be one of information giving rather than decision making. These parents had no regrets about having their children tested and reported no changes in their behaviour towards either the child who tested positively or the child who tested negatively. Using standardised scales, mood was found to be within the normal range both before and after testing in the mother and father. This case study is a first step towards systematic empirical studies determining the consequences of acquiescing to parents' requests for genetic testing in their children.

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