With a blood sample from the mother and a swab of saliva from the father scientists could soon be able to screen unborn babies for more than 3,000 genetic disorders.
Currently the only routine test if for Down’s Syndrome.
“This might give peace of mind if they don’t find problems. On the other hand what do you do about problems? Can you treat them? Will lit lead to more abortions?” said CNN Medical Correspondent Dr. Bruce Hensel.
Scientists at the University of Washington were able to map the genetics of a fetus with 99 percent accuracy. The breakthrough can detect genetic mutations like if a child is predisposed to cancer.
“If you think of a genome as a book and a healthy person has two copies of every chapter. We are trying to pick up the typos and single words on a single page,” explained UW researcher Dr. Jay Shendure.
Some of the mutations are certain, telling if a child will be born with a disability. Others are less certain, indicating a baby has a greater likelihood of developing a disorder.
The head of the research team says the test is expensive and could be as much as $50,000 for each one.
It will require more study before it can be considered for general use.
Details of the research were published in the Journal: “Science Translational Medicine.”