Is Genetic Testing Needed for All Women?Lauren Jimeson
I’ve never been approached for genetic testing with any of my pregnancies. My doctors never saw me as a candidate who needed it. I had no reason to question them and figured if they really thought that there was a reason for me to undergo any sort of testing, they would have told me before trying to get pregnant.
The American Pregnancy Association says that genetic testing isn’t necessarily for every woman that is pregnant or is looking to get pregnant. There are certain women who pose more of a risk for genetic diseases including those of certain ethnic groups.
GenPath Women’s Health, part of N.J.-based Bio-Reference Laboratories, recently announced their Pan-Ethnic Carrier Screen. Their genetic screen tests for 95 disorders that are not screened for by any other company. The company’s desire is to reach out to all women, regardless of ethnicity.“There are a good number of ethnicities that have been ignored by genetic testing,” Marc Grodman, CEO of Bio-Reference, told TIME. “You don’t have to be Jewish to have a genetic test. That’s why we are calling this a ‘pan-ethnic’ screen.” The screen will be marketed to physicians and will cost couple $500 out of pocket if insurance does not cover the testing.
While I am not in the “at-risk” category, I am still hesitant to undergo yet another set of tests before or during pregnancy. This pregnancy was the first time that I was given the nuchal test, which involved an ultrasound and two blood tests. I was hesitant to even undergo this test (even though it was at the request of my doctor) because I knew that I would have wanted to keep my baby regardless.
The American Pregnancy Association is also skeptical of the Pan-Ethnic screening, telling TIME, “Genetic testing historically is only recommended for those identified as at risk,” says Brad Imler, the group’s president. “We would advise testing because there is a reason to test, not just a hypothetical something-could-be-wrong.”
Would you undergo GenPath’s new Pan-Ethnic screening even if you weren’t “at-risk?”