Mapping Your Baby’s Genome Could Soon Become A Reality
As a parent, I want to soak in every last detail about my babies–
Ever last freckle, hair on their heads, and smile on their faces. I think it's part of being a parent to want to be attuned to everything about our kids. But what if that knowledge included knowing every last gene in your baby's body?
Researchers at Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital set out to gauge parents' interest in having their baby's genomes mapped and were surprised to discover that most parents were totally on board with getting down in their kids' DNA.
Although it sounds very scientific, mapping a baby's genome can be explained in pretty simple terms. It's a complete picture of all of a baby's DNA. The “blueprint” that makes us up as individuals would no longer be a mystery, and scientists could pinpoint potentials for disease, among other things, while a baby was still in infancy.
The survey to test parents' interest paid off, because in 2013, the hospital received a $6 million grant to put the DNA sequencing into action. “The five-year study, which is pending approval by the hospital board that governs human research, will assess the baby's risks of future diseases and how that information affects the baby's medical care and the relationship between the parents, baby, and baby's pediatrician,” said the hospital's official press release.
In other words, getting a snapshot taken at birth will help determine a person's health and potential for problems down the road right from the get go.
Of course, as with all scientific “advancements,” there are a lot of issues weighing on both sides of the table. For example, while the DNA mapping could show mutations in the DNA, not all of the mutations will actually translate into real medical problems. Some mutations are harmless, while others can be deadly, and scientists aren't 100% accurate with distinguishing the difference just yet. So parents could be given the news that their baby has all of these mutations and potential problems — and they could end up meaning nothing.
It's obviously a scientific art form that will need a lot of perfecting, but someday, maybe not in our too-distant future, it could be commonplace to leave the hospital with your baby's DNA sequence tucked right beside that little footprint keepsake.
What do you think? Would you have your baby's DNA sequenced if you could?