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Pre-pregnancy genetic tests 'ethical'

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The Human Genetics Commission has revealed there are no specific “social, ethical or legal” reasons why couples cannot undergo pre-pregnancy genetic screening on the NHS to determine if they could pass on diseases to their children.

The HGC came to the conclusion it was asked for advice by the UK National Screening Committee, which will now decide whether widespread screening should be introduced in GP surgeries, family planning centres, IVF clinics and pharmacies.

Children can develop diseases like cystic fibrosis or sickle cell disease if both of their parents are carriers of the genetic condition. At present, only people with a known risk of inherited disease or those with access to local programmes can get the tests.

Report chairman Dr Frances Flinter said: “A preconception test rather than a test during pregnancy or after a child is born will ensure greater patient choice and access to information that will help support people who are planning to have children.

“We believe there are no specific social, ethical or legal principles that prevent preconception genetic testing in population screening programmes, which would help ensure fairer access to these tests.”

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