(HealthDay News) – Use of genetic testing and screening for children should be guided by their best interests and offered in the context of genetic counseling, according to an American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) policy statement published online Feb. 21 in Pediatrics.

Lainie F. Ross, MD, PhD, from the AAP Committee of Bioethics, and colleagues provide recommendations for use of genetic testing and screening of minors in various scenarios.

The researchers note that the use of genetic testing and screening should be guided by the best interest of the child and offered within the context of genetic counseling. Parents or guardians should be informed about the benefits and risks of diagnostic testing; the assent of the child should be obtained where appropriate. The AAP and American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics (ACMG) support newborn testing but do not support routine carrier testing for minors. If indicated, the risks and benefits of testing and screening should be explained to pregnant adolescents. Parents or guardians may allow predictive genetic testing; ideally, child assent should be obtained. Testing for adult-onset conditions should be delayed unless an intervention started in childhood could decrease morbidity or mortality. Health care providers have a responsibility to inform parents, and children where appropriate, of the potential implications of genetic testing. The AAP and ACMG discourage use of direct-to-consumer and home-kit genetic testing for children.

“This policy statement represents recommendations developed collaboratively by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics with respect to many of the scenarios in which genetic testing and screening can occur,” the authors write.

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