About Genetics

Introduction to Genetic Testing

This video reviews some of the most common types of genetic tests. These include chromosome analysis (which has the least amount of detail), microarray analysis (which has more detail), and gene sequencing (which provides the most detail on specific genes).

Introduction to Secondary Findings
Secondary Findings are sometimes identified during genetic testing. They are called "secondary" findings because they may be unrelated to why genetic testing was originally done, but can still be important your health. This might be similar to when you take your car for an oil change, but the mechanic finds something else of concern, such as faulty brakes. Secondary findings include risk of developing certain types of cancer, heart problems, or whether some medications can have serious side-effects.
What is Genetic Counseling?

Genetics researchers Maureen Smith (Northwesten University), Rex Chisholm (Northwestern University), and Ingrid Holm (Children's Hospital Boston) explain that a genetic counselor is a trained professional with expertise in understanding genetics and in conveying that information to patients. By discussing genetic results with a genetic counselor, patients should gain a better understanding of the results they receive and the options available to them in terms of healthcare.

Pros and Cons of Secondary Findings

Pros of choosing to learn secondary findings include learning about risk for a genetic condition, which can help manage your health. You can also share results with family members, who can also take steps to improve their heath. Cons can include increased worry, or guilt and discomfort sharing results with your family. You may also worry that your genetic results may affect your health insurance or job. Although a federal law protects against this type of discrimination, it does not protect new life insurance or disability insurance.

Sharing Genetic Results With Your Family - Implications

Dr. Dan Roden discusses the issues related to sharing genetic information with family members. Genetic test results that you may receive may have an impact on your family members, as they share much of your DNA. This involves making personal decisions that can be extremely complicated. Similarly, when genetic testing is done on large groups of individuals, this may have important implications for society as a whole.

Do Genetic Test Results Affect My Health Insurance Coverage?

Dr. Ingrid Holm explains that, by law, health insurance companies cannot discriminate against you based on your genetic test results. However, the same law does not apply to life insurance and disability insurance.