NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Every parent worries when it comes to the health of their child. Now, a simple test can give mothers and fathers a glimpse into their infant’s medical future.
Baby Asher is eight-months-old, and though he was two months premature, he’s perfectly healthy.
Regardless, mother Kathryn Keho decided to do additional genetic testing.
“Given the opportunity to gain more information about my son’s health… it seemed like a really interesting thing to do,” Keho said.
The test she used is called Sema4 Natalis. It’s a new, non-invasive genetic test for newborns that screens for more than 190 conditions.
“It just helps squelch any worries I might have for the health of my son.”
Every state requires genetic tests on newborns. New York screens for 58 conditions, New Jersey screens for 55. This consumer test goes far beyond that.
“Most of the diseases that we’re covering will manifest in the first one to two years of life. Others can go up to about age 10,” SEMA4 CEO Eric Schadt explained.
“We’re not flooding a physician with the entire genome worth of information, only those things that are high likely to impact the baby and that can be treated.”
The test also reportedly reveals certain drug sensitivities.
That information can be critical to effectively treat an illness, but experts still raise concerns about 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,” Art Caplan, Director of Medical Ethics for NYU’s School of Medicine argued.
Caplan added most of the conditions being tested for are very rare and 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.
Dr. Alan Copperman, SEMA4’s chief medical officer, says this type of testing is just the beginning.
“I think newborn screening is the perfect example where before a child can tell us they’re sick, we can know that they’re at risk for being sick and we can do something about it,” Copperman said.
“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.”
The test is a simple cheek swab and costs $379.
For more information about the SEMA4 genetic test, click here.