Attitudes of young adults to prenatal screening and genetic correction for human attributes and psychiatric conditions

Am J Med Genet. 1998 Mar 5;76(2):111-9.


With recent advances in DNA technology, questions have arisen as to how this technology should be appropriately used. In this article, results obtained from a survey designed to elicit attitudes of college students to prenatal testing and gene therapy for human attributes and psychiatric conditions are reported. The eleven hypothetical disease phenotypes included schizophrenia, alcoholism, tendency toward violent behavior, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, depression requiring medical treatment, obesity, involvement in "dangerous" sports activities, homosexuality, borderline normal IQ (80-100), proportional short stature, and inability to detect perfect pitch. Most students supported prenatal genetic testing for psychiatric disorders and behavior that might result in harm to others (i.e., tendency towards violent behavior) and found prenatal genetic testing for human attributes less desirable. However, the lack of unilateral agreement or disagreement toward any one condition or attribute suggests the potential difficulties ahead in the quest for guidelines for the application of new technologies available to manipulate the human genome.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Behavior
  • Female
  • Genetic Testing / psychology*
  • Genetic Therapy / psychology*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis
  • Mental Disorders / genetics
  • Prenatal Diagnosis