PUBLISHED: 12:03 EST, 7 October 2013
This healthy baby girl, Amelia Sloan, became a pioneer for gene mapping shortly after her birth.
Amelia is part of a large research project outside the U.S. capital that is decoding the DNA of hundreds of infants.
New parents in a few other cities soon can start signing up for smaller studies to explore what’s called genome sequencing – fully mapping someone’s genes to look for health risks and should become a part of newborn care.
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Baby Amelia: Holly Sloan interacts with her baby Amelia at their home in Warrenton, Virginia (Amelia is part of a large genetic project in the U.S)
However, it’s full of ethical challenges.
Should parents be told only about childhood threats? Or would they also want to learn if their babies carried a key gene for, say, breast cancer after they’re grown?
Could knowing about future risks alter how a family treats an otherwise healthy youngster? And how accurate is this technology. Could it raise too many false alarms?