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The Promises And Pitfalls Of Gene Sequencing For Newborns

"Sequencing a person's DNA is now a routine task. That reality has left doctors looking for ways to put the technology to work."

"A decade ago, a top federal scientist said, "Whether you like it or not, a complete sequencing of newborns is not far away." Dr. Francis Collins, who made that statement, has been head of the National Institutes of Health for the intervening decade. But his prophecy hasn't come to pass, for both scientific and practical reasons."

"Scientists have found that, so far, a complete genetic readout would be a poor substitute for the traditional blood test that babies get at birth to screen for diseases."

"Even when genetic testing provides useful information, it also can raise unsettling questions."

"One of the big concerns about running gene scans on newborns is how families will receive and make sense of the results."

"Christine Kim, a graduate student who studies international health, volunteered for a study at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to explore that issue."

"'I think when it's your first [child], you want to be as prepared as possible, even though there's no way to actually prepare for the experience,' she said."

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