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Commentary
November 4, 1998

Uncertainties in Genetic Testing for Chronic Disease

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, White River Junction, Vt (Dr Welch), and the University of Washington, Seattle (Dr Burke).

JAMA. 1998;280(17):1525-1527. doi:10.1001/jama.280.17.1525

Sequencing an individual's DNA seems destined to become an increasingly prominent part of medical care. Once a genetic alteration has been identified and characterized by researchers, testing for it is relatively simple, requiring only white blood cells obtained via a routine blood draw. Because so many diseases are influenced by heredity, investigators are likely to identify numerous alterations associated with illness in the human genome. In the past, genetic testing concerned the next generation: decisions about whether to have a child (eg, Tay-Sachs disease, cystic fibrosis, and Down syndrome) and screening of newborns (eg, phenylketonuria and sickle cell anemia).

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