Should all newborns receive genome sequencing?

Michael Cook
September 21, 2018
Reproduced with Permission

As the cost of genome sequencing decreases, doctors are debating whether all newborns should be sequenced, facilitating a lifetime of personalized medical care.

A report from The Hastings Center, The Ethics of Sequencing Newborns: Recommendations and Reflections, examines the pros and cons. It concludes that while sequencing the genomes of some infants may sometimes be appropriate, genome-wide sequencing of all newborns should not be pursued at this time. Health professionals should tell parents not to use direct-to-consumer genetic sequencing to diagnose or screen their newborns.

"Genomics is a powerful tool, but the results it returns are still not fully understood and have not been proven to advance health outside of very specific clinical situations," says Josephine Johnston, director of research of The Hastings Center.

The recommendations include:

"Sequencing the genome of every newborn could cause parents to worry needlessly about their healthy baby," says Koenig.