Tuesday, July 18, 2023

A study proposes that the genetic sequencing of infants should be conducted at birth.

The BabySeq Project was a randomized clinical trial designed to measure the utility of using genomic sequencing in routine newborn care. Several years ago, they conducted research which revealed that 17 of 159 seemingly healthy babies whose genes were sequenced showed mutations that revealed the likelihood of future illnesses. There is a follow-up that BabySeq did, which shows that three mothers from the previous study took action to prevent the conditions that they saw mutations for. 

Currently, at birth, newborns are screened for 60 diseases, but there are 700 treatable conditions that are not included in the screenings. The possibilities with these technologies could potentially identify biomarkers that develop diseases, which could help with preventative measures. In terms of what BabySeq’s impact is on the modern family, three of the babies were revealed to be carrying BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, which can cause an increased risk of cancer. Their mothers, who did not know they were carrying this gene, had risk-reducing surgery after learning of their baby's status.

Fyodor Urnov, an expert in gene editing at the University of California, Berkeley, argues that it is unethical to not use this technology, considering it can save lives long term. In my view, assessing this technology on a case-by-case basis is essential, as it may prove particularly valuable for families with a background of genetic illnesses. However, a significant portion of our population remains reluctant to embrace the concept of DNA collection and sequencing. In my opinion, DNA sequencing at birth should be an option for parents, but never forced or pressured to those who are disinclined. 


  1. This technology could certainly do a lot of good and prevent a lot of suffering. I would have to agree with Urnov, it would certainly be unethical to not take action when someone's life is at stake. This concept is just so new to so many people right now, it will probably take decades for society to warm up to the idea of altering a baby's DNA sequence. The implications of this technology are truly revolutionary, many cancers and illnesses could truly become a thing of the past.

  2. This gadget may reduce pain. Urnov is right—ignoring life-threatening situations is unethical. Since it's new, society may take decades to accept changing a baby's DNA. This might eliminate many cancers and disorders.