Where is the line between disease control and eugenics?

    (<a href=Photo via Flickr)" title="preggo" width="640" height="360"/>

    (Photo via Flickr)

    Prenatal genetic testing can empower expectant parents, but some are concerned that we may have access to more information than we can handle.

    “We’re almost getting a fire hose of information pointed at us,” says NYU medical ethicist Art Caplan, “and we have a very hard time figuring out, well, what does it all mean?”

    Much of the information encoded in our DNA signals an increased risk for a disease, and the interpretation of risk factors is not simple.

    “We’re all bad at statistics,” says Caplan.

    For example, many would interpret a tripled risk of a disease as a serious concern, without considering that this might mean a jump from a minuscule one in a million to three in a million.

    There is also disagreement over what should be screened for in the first place. Albinism, for example, may not be desirable to an expectant parent, but is not a serious disease.

    Where should we as a society draw the line between disease control and eugenics?

    Hear the whole interview with ethicist Art Caplan above.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    Help us get to 100% of our membership goal to support the reporters covering our region, the producers bringing you great local programs and the educators who teach all our children.