Scientists: Parents 'Want Child Gene Tests'

Parents support having their children genetically tested for adult diseases despite the risks associated with the controversial assessments, U.S. scientists claimed Monday.

Georgetown University Medical Center researchers found that more than 200 parents who were offered genetic testing supported having their children also tested for their susceptibility to adult-onset health conditions.

The tests have been criticized for the potential misinterpretation of genetic information and unregulated advertising claims, with personal genetic tests widely available at drug stores and over the Internet.

"These tests usually don't offer a clean bill of health and can be hard to interpret even in the best scenario," said lead researcher Kenneth Tercyak, writing in the journal Pediatrics. "They identify incremental risks for many common diseases. Most people carry some risk based on a combination of their family history, genetics and lifestyle."

Unexpected results could cause negative reactions among parents and children and lead to pediatricians being inundated with worried parents, he said.

"The findings of our study should remind clinicians and policymakers to consider children when regulating genetic tests," Tercyak added.