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July 9, 1982

Genetic Counseling and Prevention of Birth Defects

JAMA. 1982;248(2):221-224. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03330020065033

HEALTH statistics from wealthier countries, including the United States, show that congenital disease has now become the major cause of infant mortality, accounting for 25% to 35% of all infant deaths. The advances in the science of genetics and genetic screening programs have brought an explosive expansion of prenatal screening techniques and of genetic counseling services. This has been accompanied by some regional disparities in available services and some differences in philosophy concerning such programs. Furthermore, even greater distortions may be anticipated should screening programs, as exemplified by the proposal regarding a-fetoprotein made by the Bureau of Medical Devices of the Food and Drug Administration, be authorized on a national scale or should recombinant DNA techniques (genetic engineering) attain the envisioned capacity to correct the missing or defective genes. For these reasons, the Council on Scientific Affairs of the American Medical Association thought it desirable to review the state of