Genetic counseling for psychiatric disorders
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Like other medical conditions, some psychiatric disorders are inherited, whereas others are not. Human genetics research is moving at a rapid pace. Genes for over 450 genetic disorders have been cloned and many disease-causing mutations have also been identified. The explosion of this new knowledge has created many new exciting opportunities in the diagnosis of these heritable disorders. The rapid pace of gene discovery will aid the identification of susceptibility genes for psychiatric disorders. Indeed, we can look forward to answers to many clinical and research questions. These are some of the gifts that the expanding field of human genetics research will continue to bring to medical science. However, as genetic tests for the detection of psychiatric disorders become available, many ethical, legal, and social implications will need to be considered. In this article, we review the principles of genetic counseling for psychiatric disorders, as well as the social and ethical dilemmas that genetic testing may bring. Although medical and scientific advances may bring many gifts, we should approach this new knowledge with caution, as one of the gifts may be a Pandora’s box.
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