Prenatal Search-and-Destroy Genetic Tests Often Wrong

Eugenics is alive and well with prenatal testing deployed to detect conditions — such as Down syndrome and dwarfism — toward the frequent end (and often, purpose) of ensuring that offending babies are never born. Iceland, thus, brags that almost no Down children make it to birth. What a tragedy for the babies, parents, and Icelandic society.

But here’s the thing. Prenatal-testing companies are making a lot of money selling early-gestation, prenatal blood tests that search for rare genetic conditions beyond Down syndrome. Moreover, their test results are often wrong. From the New York Times story:

In just over a decade, the tests have gone from laboratory experiments to an industry that serves more than a third of the pregnant women in America, luring major companies like Labcorp and Quest Diagnostics into the business, alongside many start-ups.

The tests initially looked for Down syndrome and worked very well. But as manufacturers tried to outsell each other, they began offering additional screenings for increasingly rare conditions.

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