Gene test for couples planning a pregnancy

New test, which can identify if prospective parents carry genetic mutations that could lead to diseases, due in Britain soon

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Couples planning a baby will be able to take a saliva test to see if either of them carry recessive genes that could lead to their child having cystic fibrosis, spinal muscular atrophy or sickle cell anaemia, reports the Telegraph

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People with a history of conditions like cystic fibrosis can be screened on the NHS already. However this new test is aimed at people who aren’t in any high-risk group and it can also check for 109 genetic disorders, reports the Times.

The test will be available for £700 per couple at a London fertility clinic. The clinic has said it will only offer the test with counselling. But the US company that developed the test, Consyl, could be planning to sell it online.

Some medical professionals feel the test is playing on parents’ fears. One medical expert even said the test has a “eugenic flavour”.

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However Balaji Srinivasan, from Counsyl, said, “It is something that should be on the radar of every adult before having a child. Just as you know not to drink alcohol or smoke while pregnant, you should know you can screen against genetic disease. Couples have a fundamental right to know their carrier status and to make reproductive decisions on the basis of that status without outside interference.”

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