Newborn Genetic Sequencing Results Do Not Harm Family Dynamics
No evidence found of negative psychosocial effect even among families who received monogenic disease risk or carrier status findings
MONDAY, Sept. 13, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- Returning genomic sequencing results for newborns does not disrupt family dynamics, according to a study published online Aug. 23 in JAMA Pediatrics.
Stacey Pereira, Ph.D., from the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, and colleagues assessed the psychosocial effect of newborn genomic sequencing (nGS) on families participating in the BabySeq Project. The analysis included 519 parents randomly assigned to either standard newborn screening and a family history report (control group) or the same plus an nGS report of childhood-onset conditions and highly actionable adult-onset conditions (nGS group).
The researchers did not observe any meaningful differences in parent-child relationships postdisclosure or at three or 10 months afterward. Neither were there differences noted in parents' psychological distress between study groups over time. There were between-group differences in response patterns for one measure of the parents' relationship, but the effect decreased over time. No difference was observed on the conflict measure responses over time. No domains showed a persistent negative psychosocial effect.
"The lack of distress on the family unit is an encouraging sign as we continue to explore the potential risks and benefits, as well as ethical and equity questions related to preventive sequencing of apparently healthy people," a coauthor said in a statement.
Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical or biotechnology industries.