Kids keen for genetic insight
In just a few years it will be commonplace for people to have their entire set of DNA sequenced, but many do not want to know what is in store.
As the cost of full exome sequencing continues to drop, and research reveals more the potential harms hidden in our DNA, the use of individual genetic information for medical purposes is on the rise.
It is still common to hear the sentiment that ignorance is bliss, that not knowing about potential genetic pitfalls is a good way to avoid stress.
But a recent survey of adolescents in grades 7-12 suggests they are keen to know what might be in store for their medical future.
A majority of the tweens and teens in a study by the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG would prefer to know the results of unanticipated findings found in whole exome sequencing genetic testing, even if the findings are not medically actionable until adulthood.
Researchers at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center administered a survey to 282 students aged 12-18 attending three public schools in Cincinnati.
The students listened to a short presentation on genetic testing and answered multiple-choice questions about their preferences for disclosure and the reasons behind them.
Eighty-three per cent of respondents said they would prefer to know about non-actionable results.
Of these, 38 per cent cited future planning related to their education, career choice, relationships, and reproductive choices as a primary reason.
This was a significantly higher proportion than the survey's other choices, which included reducing anxiety and gaining information about relatives' health.
Among respondents who said they would elect not to know about non-actionable findings, the most common reason was concern for introducing stress in their family.
Slightly more than half (53 per cent) of respondents would want to make this decision jointly with their parents, while 19 per cent felt they could make the decision on their own.