Most People Don't Think DNA Screening Is a Must Before Starting a Family

According to a new study, most people want to know what's in their DNA, but few think genetic screening before pregnancy is important.
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According to the results of a new study, people across the country understand DNA and genetic screening—but most don't understand that the right time to screen is before starting a family.

The new study released today by health technology company Counsyl shows that more than half of people in the U.S. want to know what's in their DNA. Overall, millennials were the most likely group to want to know. However a much smaller number, just 7 percent, reported that their doctor had discussed genetic screening with them.

"The survey findings speak to the public's appetite to know what's in their DNA—something we're encouraged to see, since early awareness of risk can make a big difference in health outcomes," said Ramji Srinivasan, Counsyl co-founder and CEO, in a news release.

It turns out that people care because they want to be able to make informed choices about their health care. That said, the study conducted among more than 1,000 adults across the country concluded that few people really understood what genetic screening means when it comes to pregnancy and starting a family.

While a full 78 percent of respondents said they were aware that DNA can tell them if they could pass on genetic diseases to their children, and 70 percent wanted to find out if they could pass on a genetic disease, just 28 percent thought the testing should be done before deciding to start a family.

"Just like family characteristics, such as hair and eye color, people can inherit genetic diseases from their parents. In fact, two people who are carriers for the same condition have a one in four chance of passing the disease to their children," said Shivani Nazareth, Counsyl's director of women's health, in the release. "Pursuing genetic screening before getting pregnant gives couples important knowledge that can make a difference for a family's well being."

When publishing the results, the researchers underscored that the right time to do genetic screening is prior to starting a family.

Did you undergo any genetic testing before getting pregnant?

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Alesandra Dubin is a mom to 1-year-old boy-girl twins. She's also a Los Angeles-based writer and the founder of lifestyle blog Homebody in Motion. Follow her on FacebookInstagramGoogle+ and Twitter.

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