Streams

Reading a Newborn's DNA

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

New York Times reporter Anne Eisenberg talks about new technology that allows us to read the DNA of a newborn child and looks at the ethical questions such testing raises for parents and doctors. She’s joined by Dr. Robert Klitzman, professor of clinical psychiatry and bioethics at Columbia University, and Dr. Ed McCabe, the chief medical officer of the March of Dimes, who was active in the National Institutes of Health’s issuing of grants for research into the social, ethical and legal implications of being able to read the DNA blueprint of a newborn. Eisenberg’s article “The Path to Reading a Newborn’s DNA Map” appeared in the New York Times February 8.

Guests:

Anne Eisenberg, Dr. Robert Klitzman and Dr. Ed McCabe
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Comments [8]

Ann from NJ

In discussing potential discrimiantion, the guests appeared to be unaware of federal legistaion, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act. GINA bars health insurers from requiring individuals to provide their genetic information or the genetic information of a family member to the insurer. Health insurers may not use genetic information to make enrollment or coverage decisions and they cannot request or require that an individual or family member undergo a genetic test. Further, genetic information cannot be used as a preexisting condition.

GINA also bars employers from asking for or obgtaining genetic information (with very limited exceptions) and contains a complete prohibition agaonst using genetic information for hiring, firing, or any other employment-related reason.

Feb. 11 2014 01:04 PM
Andreas from Manhattan

What about epigenetics? How will that field change our understanding of the DNA?

Feb. 11 2014 12:36 PM

Think for a moment how the industrial revolution has changed the world with physical manufacturing and the recent computer revolution has changed everything when it comes to compiling and managing and using information (NSA anyone?). The genomics revolution digs into the very nature of our physical beings will save many of us from disease. At the same time the ramifications of unbridled growth by profit mongering corporations bring up major ethical, moral and social concerns that should be addressed sooner rather than later

Francis Fukuyama's 2002 book, Our Post Human Future predicted the complicated scientific, moral, ethical and social issues presented by the biotechnology and genomics revolutions. How far have we come in addressing the questions brought up by his landmark book? Genetic testing of our babies is the tip of a very deep iceberg with respect to humanity's control of its destiny.

Feb. 11 2014 12:36 PM
Amy from Manhattan

On the other end of the cost issue, would genetic testing lead to opportunities for prevention that would later save money in the health-care system by keeping some of these diseases from developing & requiring more expensive treatment? I'm sure it's more complex than that, of course; we don't have preventive measures yet for many genetic diseases. So how do the guests think this would balance out?

Feb. 11 2014 12:25 PM
bob from brooklyn

My wife has a debilitating genetic disease. I would like to test our daughter to see if she has a predisposition to this disease and see what preventative measures we can take, but I hesitate because I don't want her to be marked for the rest of her life. Is there any way to get a genetic test where the results are kept anonymous or private?

Feb. 11 2014 12:20 PM
Mia from Manhattan

How wonderful to hear Anne on the radio!

In addition to her great reporting for the New York Times, I studied under her at Polytechnic in Brooklyn as part of their technical writing program and hers were some of the greatest courses offered.

I got better and more detailed feedback from her in those courses than I did afterward at Columbia's journalism school.

Feb. 11 2014 12:12 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

I think if it can avert or eventually help allay or fight genetic diseases, it is a good think. Maybe we'll eventually find a way to fight the ultimate disease called Natural Death. But if it is used to unnaturally select certain desirable traits, such as greater height, or for blonde hair and blue eyes then I'm not so sure. Basically that's like breeding dogs or cattle and I'm not so sure that is a good thing.

Feb. 11 2014 12:05 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

I think if it can avert or eventually help allay or fight genetic diseases, it is a good think. Maybe we'll eventually find a way to fight the ultimate disease called Natural Death. But if it is used to unnaturally select certain desirable traits, such as greater height, or for blonde hair and blue eyes then I'm not so sure. Basically that's like breeding dogs or cattle and I'm not so sure that is a good thing.

Feb. 11 2014 12:05 PM

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