Ethical issues in neurogenetics.

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Ethical issues in neurogenetics.

Handb Clin Neurol. 2018;147:23-36

Authors: Uhlmann WR, Roberts JS

Abstract
Many neurogenetic conditions are inherited and therefore diagnosis of a patient will have implications for the patient’s relatives and can raise ethical issues. Predictive genetic testing offers asymptomatic relatives the opportunity to determine their risk status for a neurogenetic condition, and professional guidelines emphasize patients’ autonomy and informed, voluntary decision making. Beneficence and nonmaleficence both need to be considered when making decisions about disclosure and nondisclosure of genetic information and test results. There can be disclosure concerns and challenges in determining whose autonomy to prioritize when a patient makes a genetic testing decision that can reveal the genetic status of a relative (e.g., testing an adult child when the at-risk parent has not been tested). Ethical issues are prominent when genetic testing for neurogenetic conditions is requested prenatally, on minors, adoptees, adult children at 25% risk, and for individuals with psychiatric issues or cognitive impairment. Neurogenetic conditions can result in cognitive decline which can affect decisional capacity and lead to ethical challenges with decision making, informed consent, and determining the patient’s ability to comprehend test results. The ethical implications of genetic testing and emerging issues, including direct-to-consumer genetic testing, disclosure of secondary findings from genomic sequencing, and use of apolipoprotein E testing in clinical and research settings, are also discussed. Resources for information about genetic testing practice guidelines, insurance laws, and directories of genetics clinics are included.

PMID: 29325614 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]