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October 15, 1997

Predisposition Genetic Testing for Late-Onset Disorders in Adults: A Position Paper of the National Society of Genetic Counselors

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Pediatrics, University of Vermont College of Medicine, Burlington (Ms McKinnon); Department of Pediatrics, University of Utah Medical Center, Salt Lake City (Ms Baty); Division of Medical Genetics, University of Washington, Seattle (Ms Bennett); Center for Human and Molecular Genetics, UMDNJ, New Jersey Medical School, Newark (Ms Magee); Comprehensive Sickle Cell Program, Odessa Children's Clinic, Seattle, Wash (Ms Neufeld-Kaiser); Medical Genetics Branch, National Human Genome Research Institute, Bethesda, Md (Ms Peters); Department of Behavioral Science, MD Anderson Cancer Center, University of Texas, Houston (Ms Sawyer); Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Control, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Mass (Ms Schneider). Mss McKinnon, Baty, Magee, Neufeld-Kaiser, Peters, Sawyer, and Schneider are members of the Social Issues Committee of the National Society of Genetic Counselors.

JAMA. 1997;278(15):1217-1220. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03550150021011

RAPID ADVANCES, such as those related to the Human Genome Project, have dramatically increased the number of available molecular genetic tests, and this number will only increase with future genetics research. Until recently, most such tests have been for rare monogenic conditions. Many of these single-gene disorders show signs or symptoms during childhood, while some, such as Huntington disease and adultonset polycystic kidney disease, have later onset. Molecular genetic tests have now become available for more common, complex conditions with onset later in life. Identification of cancer susceptibility genes1-6 and of genes leading to several neurogenetic disorders, including Alzheimer disease7 and some forms of ataxia,8 represents the start of a cascade of genes to be identified that confer susceptibility to adult-onset diseases. Understanding of the genetic basis for other complex diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, and psychiatric disorders, is advancing at a rapid pace.9-11 These

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