genetic testing and abortion

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-03-2007
genetic testing and abortion
Thu, 09-20-2007 - 10:54am

A new study just came out in JAMA. Researchers in Israel screened 29,000 Jews of Ashkenazi descent who are therefore at higher risk for certain genetic diseases, for Gaucher's disease. Gaucher's is one of the more treatable diseases in this modern age:
"Among children who inherit two faulty genes, the most common result is Type 1 Gaucher. Half will become symptomatic at some point in their lives, when harmful amounts of glucocerebroside build up in the spleen, liver, lungs and bone marrow. Patients can experience pain and suffer from fatigue, although the symptoms can be treated with biweekly infusions of the enzyme that their bodies fail to produce in sufficient quantities. The intravenous infusions take an hour or two at home and cost $100,000 to $400,000 a year."

Over the 8 years of the study, one quarter of the fetuses found to have the disease were aborted.

What do y'all think? Too much testing? Or now that we've entered an age where we keep everyone alive with modern medicine and have therefore stopped evolving, is this the new way to weed out genes that would have used to fail to make it?

(Personally, I'm not doing any testing with my pregnancy... but I support the rights of women to test and make decisions as they feel comfortable doing. Perhaps if I were of a genetic stock that had a lot of disorders such as Tay-Sachs I'd want to test. Hard to say from where I stand now!)

Newsy link:,0,7266568.story?coll=la-home-center

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-29-2004
Thu, 09-20-2007 - 12:04pm

I think that articles like this give a false sense of security to many. Kind of like the articles about mapping the human DNA.

From what we've been told, everyone is a carrier of several recessive genes that if matched with the same recessive gene, would cause serious medical complications to the fetus or even death. The problem is that most of us have no idea which disease causing genes we carry. Unless the doctors know what to screen/look for, the chances of them finding a disease in a fetus is rare.

I can see this being helpful for parents that know that they are a carrier or at a high risk of being a carrier for a particular disease or group of diseases, but for the general population, it seems like a far shot. Even if the fetus tests negative for

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-10-2003
Thu, 09-20-2007 - 1:16pm
I think it';s good to have this information. Not every family has the resources- any of which may include mental, physical, time (both parents work), financial, insurance, emotional; with which to deal with various types of disabilities. They say upwards of 80% of confirmed diagnosis for T21 via amniocentesis or CVS result in termination of the pregnancy.
I read in this article about the IV treatments costing between $100,000 and 400,000- you are talking about a family maxing out their insurance rather quickly, becoming virtually uninsurable- the child forgoing the treatments that would give it a chance at a normal life. This means the family chooses between its existence and that of the fetus. From a personal standpoint, there's no way in heck I'd subject my husband to the ruination o everything he worked his life to achieve, and remove everything in my other children's lives to continue gestating a pregnancy such as that. However, I'd like to see universal healthcare in order that those who WOULD choose to go forth, but are caught between eventual poverty and lack of treatment for the WHOLE family- and abortion, be able to go forth knowing that the medical costs ae assured and will not bankrupt them.