By Kurtis Ming

Every parent worries when it comes to the health of their child. Would you want to know if your baby was prone to certain diseases before they turn 10? This test gives parents a glimpse into their infant’s medical future.

Healthy at eight-months-old, baby Asher’s mom still wanted to know if he could sick.

“Given the opportunity to gain more information about my son’s health… it seemed like a really interesting thing to do,” said Asher’s mom Kathryn Keho.

She turned to the new genetic test called SEMA4 which screens newborns for more than 190 conditions.

Every state requires genetic tests on newborns, but this consumer test goes beyond that with diseases that can manifest up to 10-years-old.

“We’re not flooding a physician with the entire genome worth of information, only those things that are highly likely to impact the baby and that can be treated,” SEMA4 CEO Eric Schadt said.

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The test also reportedly reveals certain drug sensitivities which can be critical information when treating illnesses.

Despite the potential benefits, ethicists worry how much information is too much.

“Let’s say you have a risk factor for something, it could impede your child’s ability to get life insurance, disability insurance, maybe even health insurance down the road,” said Art Caplan, Director of Medical Ethics for NYU’s School of Medicine. 

Caplan said it may cause unnecessary worry.

“It’s hard enough to be a parent, but I think you want to keep your eye on the ball. It’s diet, it’s environment, it’s exercise,” Caplan said. 

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But SEMA4 said before your kid can tell you they are sick, you could know how to respond.

“We can prevent disease for ourselves, we can diagnose diseases before they are manifesting themselves. We can promote the health of the children. That’s what the future looks like,” said Dr. Alan Copperman with SEMA4.

Asher’s mom was relieved when she found out his tests were all negative.

The test is a simple cheek swab and costs $379 dollars.


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