Arrays in postnatal and prenatal diagnosis: An exploration of the ethics of consent

Hum Mutat. 2012 Jun;33(6):916-22. doi: 10.1002/humu.22068. Epub 2012 Apr 4.


The introduction of genome-wide arrays in postnatal and prenatal diagnosis raises challenging ethical issues. Here, we explore questions with regard to the ethics of consent. One important issue is whether informed consent for genome-wide array-based testing is in fact feasible, given the wide range of possible outcomes and related options. The proposed alternative of "generic consent" will have to be studied in practice. From an ethical point of view, the question is whether consent would still be sufficiently "informed" in a generic approach. Another issue that has not yet been given much attention is how far parents, or pregnant women and their partners, should be allowed to determine the range of possible outcomes that will or will not be reported back to them. The scope and limits of parents' and prospective parents' right to know or not to know are far from clear. The complex normative issues on the content and weight of these rights can only be answered by taking full account of the rights and interests of all the parties involved: prospective and actual parents, children, and relatives. This paper is the result of a working group meeting preceding the European Society of Human Genetics 2011 Conference, where these issues were addressed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Comparative Genomic Hybridization / ethics*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Informed Consent / ethics*
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Diagnosis / ethics*