Just about every day, genetic counselor Shawn Fayer heads to the maternity ward at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and tries to convince new parents to give him a blood sample.
Fayer is offering gene sequencing for newborns. It gives parents a tantalizing look at their baby’s genetic information.
New parents Lauren and Ian Patrick, from Marion, Mass., were excited when they were first approached earlier this month.
“My initial reaction — why wouldn’t someone do this? Why wouldn’t they want the information?” Ian Patrick says as he cradles his newborn son, Finn. “For me, more information is better, even if it’s not always good.”
If his parents sign him up, Finn would join the BabySeq project, an NIH-funded study led by Dr. Robert Green, a medical geneticist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. With genetic testing getting cheaper and cheaper, Green wants to figure out what happens when parents know their child’s genetic blueprint from day one.
Illustration: Scott Bakal for NPR