Parents on DNA Testing and Mandatory Vaccines

In the Early Fall 2007 Michigan Alumnus magazine (Go Blue!), they had a few health stories.  The CS Mott Children’s Hospital asked 2,000 adults if they would endorse genetic testing to determine if their children were at risk for developing a disease when no treatment exists.

  • 54% (of those with an opinion) said yes.
  • 39% agreed but only if an effective treatment existed.
  • Only just over a third said they were willing to have the DNA stored in a biobank (a collection of DNA to help researchers identify treatments and preventative strategies).

The authors believe the reluctance is related to fears of how that information could be used to affect employment or insurance coverage.  Apparently, Congress is evaluating a Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act to address that concern.

With many states considering making it mandatory that girls 11-12 get the HPV vaccine that provides protection against human papillomavirus (the virus linked to cervical cancer and genital warts), the hospital polled US parents to get their opinion.  44% were in favor of making it mandatory for school entry.  23 states and Washington DC have introduced bills regarding this and Virginia has passed a law requiring it.

On the vaccine issue, I really don’t know enough to have an educated opinion right now.  On DNA testing, I think of it like participating in the national bone marrow donor program.  I would want mine on file so that if I had a disease and they found a cure that they would reach out to me and help me.  People might try to abuse the information, but I believe that in the long-term the benefits outweigh the risks and society will be protected.

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