Genetic testing has become a highly controversial issue among both the general population and the scientific community. It is a process that exposes a person’s entire genome sequence, allowing it to be read and evaluated to identify potential risks for genetic diseases or diseases that could be passed onto offspring (Holt Productions, 2012). With thousands of genetic tests already being used, and more being established, it seems logical to put this growing technology to use. Some agree that it is a person’s right to know and understand his or her genetic makeup. However, others argue that, despite the benefits of genetic testing, caution should be used to carefully inspect the risks associated with this new technology.
Relatively simple tests can be used to conduct genetic testing on adults and children; even fetuses can undergo testing, but at greater risk for complications. Currently, genetic testing has to be ordered by a medical professional such as a physician, nurse practitioner, or medical geneticist. Once ordered, a DNA sample is sent to a lab for further testing.
In adults, sampling methods typically involve taking DNA through blood draws, hair pulls, skin samples, or samples of other tissues. In fetuses, however, there are two techniques that can be used to obtain genetic information: amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling. Through amniocentesis, amniotic fluid is taken from the placental sac and tested directly. The other method is chorionic villus sampling, where a tissue sample is tested after being taken directly from the fetus (National Library of Medicine, 2014). Genetic testing has become a routine procedure to test newborns for various genetic diseases.
One such genetic disease that is routinely screened in newborns is cystic fibrosis. A chronic disorder, inherited recessively, cystic fibrosis is the result of a defective gene that causes the body to produce thick mucus that obstructs respiratory and digestive functions. The defective CFTR gene on chromosome 7 makes a defective protein that is responsible for making cilia. The faulty protein makes faulty cilia that do not function properly in clearing mucus. Signs of cystic fibrosis can include persistent respiratory infections, chest x-ray abnormalities, reduced growth and weight gain, asthma, and high sodium chloride concentrations in the sweat. The disease can lead to respiratory failure, and the average lifespan of someone living with the disease is 40 years (Farrell et al., 2008).
Due to the seriousness of the disease and the complications associated with it, it is imperative that treatment begins as soon as the disease is discovered. Treatment for cystic fibrosis included medications such as antibiotics, mucus-thinning drugs, pancreatic enzymes, etc. Mechanical methods of breaking up the mucus through chest-clappers and breathing devices are also available (Mayo Clinic, 2012). In serious cases, lung transplants may be needed. Many treatment options are...