This new DNA test screens newborns for 1,800 diseases, but most parents don't want to know

BabySeq looks at thousands of diseases in newborns and examines the psychological and economic impacts the results have on parents

by Lindsay Van Dyke
Jun 10 2018, 12:40pm

DNA tests that check newborns for diseases are already mandated across the U.S., but a new study at Boston's Brigham and Women's hospital called "BabySeq" is taking it a step further.

This landmark genetic scan screens newborns for around 1,800 diseases, including breast cancer and genetic mutations that produce sudden cardiac death — which leads to another main component of the study: the impact on parents when the test results show one of these diseases.

The National Institutes of Health is funding the BabySeq study to the tune of about $25 million. The initial round of results will help doctors determine how to use the testing in the future, and also measure the psychological and economic impact these results might have on the parents and receive the information and their babies.

After babies are born, researchers from the project go into delivery rooms to get parents on board, but so far they’ve had trouble with participation. BabySeq says that 9 out of 10 parents they asked declined doing the test.

But VICE News found one family that did, and we followed them on the day they got test results for their newborn son, Bo.