Opinion: predictive testing for Huntington disease in childhood: challenges and implications

Am J Hum Genet. 1990 Jan;46(1):1-4.


Predictive testing for HD strongly highlights the need for autonomy and the need for each individual to decide about his or her willingness-or unwillingness-to obtain genetic information predictive of the future outcome. In respect of this principle, testing for minors should not be offered at the request of a third party, and prenatal testing which would result in the birth of a child at increased risk for HD should, where possible, be avoided. If we accede to the wishes of the parents for their children to be tested, we will have broken the primary principles of confidentiality, privacy, and individual justice that are owed to those children. This could be the thin edge of a wedge which could result in adoption agencies, educational institutions, insurance companies, and other third parties demanding genetic testing for another individual. Despite years of careful planning, predictive testing for HD is turning out to be more complex and challenging than ever expected. We need a great deal of care and concern in developing our response to this challenge. Careful long-term assessment and documentation of the impact of such testing is needed, so that the appropriate guidelines can be developed, guidelines which both protect families with HD and at the same time give individuals the opportunity to participate in predictive testing programs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adoption
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • DNA Mutational Analysis
  • Female
  • Fetal Diseases / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Huntington Disease / diagnosis*
  • Huntington Disease / genetics
  • Minors*
  • Parental Consent
  • Personal Autonomy
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Diagnosis
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Uncertainty