Three characteristics make testing for genetic abnormalities different from all other medical diagnostics: life-long validity for the tested person; implications for a broader circle of blood-related family members; and the possible emergence of genetic information that was not solicited but may nevertheless influence the life of the person and his/her family. For these reasons, professional counselling prior to testing is an essential requirement. In prenatal diagnostics, genetic testing is ethically acceptable for the elimination of embryos with genetically determined diseases, but not for selection regarding gender or personal characteristics. For children, testing for adult-onset diseases should not be performed, and genetic testing should be reserved for conditions for which an immediate intervention may benefit the child. Great caution and consent prior to testing are recommended in dealing with unsolicited information. Unsolicited information regarding paternity should not be communicated, with the exception of clear proof of incest involving a minor.
KeywordsThe spectrum of genetic information Preimplantation genetic diagnostics Genetic testing in childhood Genetic counselling Accidental findings
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