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 Genome of 18-week-old Foetus Deciphered

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Ashley Bacchus

Number of posts : 64
Registration date : 2011-02-06

PostSubject: Genome of 18-week-old Foetus Deciphered   Sat Jun 09, 2012 11:40 pm

Genetics seems to be advancing at such a fast pace. The scientists at the University of Washington used pieces of a foetus' DNA which naturally float around in the pregnant woman's blood. These fragments were then pieced together using the parents' DNA as a guide to build a complete 'map' of the foetus's genome. They then compared the genetic map drawn 18 weeks into pregnancy with the foetus' actual DNA taken from the umbilical cord after birth. It was 98% accurate. I think that it’s a very impressive process, as it will allow for the detection of thousands of genetic disorders through a single, non-invasive test. It’s definitely an improvement from the tests that we have now. Like the one for Down’s syndrome, where a sample is taken from the sac around the developing foetus, but comes with the risk of miscarriage. If the technique is improved then they can even detect disorders that occur at conception and not just the ones that are present in the parents. Of course this test comes with many moral implications, because when there is early detection of genetic disorders, parents usually choose to abort the unborn child. I get that people have the choice to decide whether or not they want genetic screening and counselling but I just find it sad that so many people would want to get rid of unborn babies just because they’re different. I also understand if a baby has a genetic disease like Tay-Sachs, where the child only lives till about age 4, it may be easier for the parents to let the child go before it’s born rather than 4 years later, when they’ve gotten attached to the child. However, the test could also be used to let parents know what they’ll have to deal with and give them time to prepare if they decide to keep the baby. Also with 98% accuracy, there is still room for error. The test could falsely pick up a disorder that isn’t actually present, resulting in the parents having an abortion of a perfectly normal baby. I suppose they could do the test more than once, but there’s always that risk.
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