x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Everything for baby?

Blood tests that doctors commonly administer to newborn babies are revealing more about a their health, and future prospects, than ever before. Is this any way to parent?

The birth of a child is singularly the happiest moment in any parent's life. Nothing can compare to a mother laying eyes on her child for the very first time. But now those joyous moments are in danger of being taken away from a new parent - does it help that it could be for the good of the baby?

As TheWall Street Journal reported recently, the heel-prick blood test that many doctors commonly administer to newborn babies is revealing more about a their health, and future prospects, than ever before. The possibility of screening newborns for hundreds of diseases throws up the question of exactly how much parents need or want to know.

While highlighting genetic markers for diseases that can be treated is clearly a good thing, at what point do doctors draw the line? Do parents need to know every single minor malady that their child might be susceptible to in the future? And some conditions still have no treatment - at best a parent would be told to prepare for tragedy.

It remains to be seen how much infant blood tests will affect families and health care. It is worth noting that in many parts of the world, the technology and resources won't be available in any case. But everyone faces the hard choice of how much to spend on diminishing health-care results.

New parents may soon have far more serious decisions to make than simply agreeing on the name of their child.