Updated | For some, more information is better, but there are times when you can know too much. A new at-home DNA test by Sema4 can look for 193 diseases in a baby’s genes, which could lead to early detection and treatment for certain conditions, according to the company. But geneticists warn that the results could bring a whole new set of complications.
Currently, all newborns are screened for medical conditions like cystic fibrosis and sickle cell disease. The number of disorders varies by state but ranges from 31 to 60, geneticist Laura Hercher of Sarah Lawrence College told Newsweek. According to the National Institutes of Health, many states test for 32 conditions.
Sema4 goes beyond that by using DNA sequencing to look for possible mutations linked to developing one of their 193 listed conditions. The test also analyzes how kids will respond to 30 commonly prescribed medications, like antibiotics. All ailments can be treated through diet, medication or other therapy, which the company believes allows parents to be proactive.
According to the company website, orders are approved by an independent network of doctors and genetic counselors. Parents are encouraged to send their own DNA samples, along with samples from their babies, and will receive the results within two weeks. A genetic counselor will follow up with the family and their pediatrician.
Hercher has no connection to the company and says she doesn’t know the specifics of how the test works. Instead, she can speak about newborn screening in more general terms and believes that more information could lead to more problems.
“For some people it may result…