Genetic Testing for Adoptees: Is it Worthwhile?
Clinical genetic testing is the process of examining your body’s DNA for disease-causing mutations or changes in your genes. The goal is to better understand your risk of developing cancer or another illness.
If you test positive for an inherited gene mutation, your medical provider can help you make certain health and lifestyle adjustments to lower your risk of disease. They also might recommend precautionary measures like cancer screenings, medicines, or even surgery.
Remember that a positive test result doesn’t always mean you will contract a disease. Likewise, a negative result doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t get it. Disease risk can vary over time due to factors like lifestyle choices, exposure to harmful agents, and aging.
You might be wondering if genetic testing is worthwhile for adopted newborns. The answer is yes, for a few reasons. Continue reading to learn about the benefits of genetic testing for adoptees.
Adoption and Medical History
Adoptees face the challenge of not knowing their family’s medical and health history. This leaves them in the dark about conditions that can be preventable, or where early intervention is crucial.
Genetic testing for your adopted newborn allows you to find information about their biological parents, siblings, and other relatives. You can better understand their family tree and history while discovering health risks you may not have been aware of.
The Benefits of Medical Genetic Testing for Adoptees
Genetic testing can help you:
- Learn if your adoptee has a genetic condition that runs in their family before they have symptoms.
- Diagnose a genetic condition if they show symptoms.
- Help them pursue necessary preventive measures and healthy lifestyle choices to reduce their disease risk.
Below, we’ll look at the benefits of genetic testing for adoptees’ health more in-depth.
1. A Sense of Relief
Genetic testing can provide peace of mind and a sense of relief from uncertainty. Not having any idea of your adoptee’s family health history can be stressful. A negative genetic test result can lessen anxiety, while a positive result can help you take the appropriate next steps to help your child. Either way, clinical genetic testing can reduce fear of the unknown.
2. Informed Lifestyle and Medical Decisions
By understanding potential health risks in your adopted newborn, you can help equip them for a future of better health. The purpose of genetic testing is to reveal potentially disease-causing mutations or diagnose a genetic condition. When your child receives an accurate diagnosis, their doctor can administer a treatment plan accordingly and give them the support they need.
For instance, if a genetic test shows an increased risk of cancer development later in life, they can undergo regular checkups and lifestyle measures to minimize this risk. Furthermore, genetic testing can confirm the diagnosis of a chronic condition like Huntington’s disease or cystic fibrosis.
In some instances, subsequent medical procedures or tests may be necessary after a genetic test. For example, a gene variant that increases colorectal cancer risk may warrant a colonoscopy.
3. Opportunity to Educate Others
Genetic testing can alert parents and individuals of health issues to which they may be susceptible. Since genetic conditions typically run in families, information about your child’s genetic makeup may be useful to their other family members that you know of. You can inform them of these potential risks so they can take measures as needed.
Everyone can benefit from genetic testing, whether for themselves, their adopted or biological newborn, or another family member, so it never hurts to enlighten others on this topic.
Types of Genetic Testing
Below are two main types of genetic testing and how they differ from each other.
A direct-to-consumer (DTC) test can be completed at home without the involvement of a health care provider. After receiving a DTC kit, the consumer collects a DNA specimen — usually by swabbing the mouth or spitting into a tube — then sends it back to the company for testing and analysis.
DTC kits can serve two main purposes — helping people gain a better idea of where their ancestors come from, and obtaining recreational genetic results like the prediction of eye color. However, this technique is rather limited when it comes to testing for genetic conditions.
If you’re testing for a risk of cancer, for instance, you may only learn about a few of many possible genetic causes. DTC kit health testing only tests for some genetic causes. While they can help test genetic markers, they are challenging to interpret without professional intervention. Because there are limitations in the information DTC kits provide, further testing is often required.
Before DTC tests can be used for medical decision-making, they must be verified with clinical genetic tests performed by health care professionals. They should never be used to substitute clinical genetic testing.
2. Clinical Genetic Testing
Unlike with DTC kits, a medical specialist administers clinical genetic testing. Generally, a clinician collects DNA from a blood or saliva sample, then sends it to a lab for testing. Clinical genetic testing is specific to the patient’s family and medical history, thus offering more comprehensive possible genetic disease causes.
This form of testing rarely needs to be repeated for quality assurance. When a doctor provides the test, they explain and use the results in a way that is relevant to the adoptee’s needs. A clinical genetic test can help them more accurately diagnose a condition or better understand the source of an underlying condition.
A health care professional can assess a genetic disease’s origins, its trajectory, and what prevention or treatment methods will work best. That way, they can customize an appropriate treatment plan.
Genetic testing performed by a health care professional provides more accurate, in-depth results regarding your adoptee’s genetic history. Overall, clinical genetic testing is of higher quality and more patient-specific than DTC kits, making it a more practical option. Your adopted newborn will have a greater chance of receiving the most personalized care possible.
Contact Americord® for Newborn Health Screening
At Americord®, we partner with Veritas Genetics, a global leader in genomic screening. Genomic screening involves sequencing DNA to determine a person’s risk of future medical conditions. Through this partnership, we are proud to offer newborn whole-genome screening for Americord® families.
Genomic screening takes genetic testing a step further by screening your entire genetic makeup for mutations, as opposed to only studying targeted genes in the body. A genome screening can provide more extensive results, helping you make more informed health decisions for your child. Furthermore, genomic screening is completely safe. It doesn’t involve any invasive procedures like needles or surgery.
If you’re considering genomic health screening for your adopted newborn for a comprehensive medical history profile, Americord® is your solution. View our myNewborn test today!
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