The findings were documented in the Lancet Journal, dated 12-Feb-2011, Volume 377, Issue 9765, pages 555-556. Four researchers, CP Schaaf, DA Scott, J Wiszniewska and AL Beaudet, published results indicating that the use of SNP (Single Nucleotide Polymorphism) DNA microarray analysis in the assessment of children with intellectual and developmental disabilities has resulted in the discovery of numerous previously unrecognized genomic disorders.
The most significant outcome or aspect of the research, however, is the conclusiveness of the analysis to confidently identify children that have been born as a result of an incestuous pairing.
The medical significance of these findings indicate that children born to first-degree relatives face more than a 50% higher risk of some form of disability than children born to non-related mothers and fathers.
One of the authors, Dr. Arthur L. Beaudet, chairman of Molecular and Human Genetics at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, reached an important acknowledgement. He reported that by way of these new findings, DNA experts have opened a figurative “Pandora’s Box” of previously unknown information that could have a dramatic impact on several non-medical and non-scientific fronts.
As profoundly as this knowledge and capability has been presented, it has in a likewise manner introduced extremely sensitive and consequential implications regarding social, ethical, legal and criminal aspects of the findings for each case discovered and documented.
According to Beaudet, any expert that discovers a child born through an incestuous relationship to a mother that is a minor has a legal obligation to report those findings to child protection services and/or the police. The findings could reflect instances of rape or other forms of sexual abuse.
Beaudet also described that disabilities are frequent in children that are born as a result of incest. Suspicions about children and incest held by physicians in the past can now be confirmed because, “Now we have a routine test that we do in children with disabilities that makes it obvious.”
Read the full report about the newly discovered DNA Testing findings here.
In the Lancet article, it was written, “Although such revelations might provide important diagnostic clues to the underlying disorders, they also raise important legal and ethical concerns, especially for the clinicians who discover them.”
In addition to the obvious legal and ethical concerns, the divulgence of information leading to any subsequent criminal or legal action by authorities could potentially jeopardize the personal safety and emotional well-being of mothers and/or their children.
The authors also noted that, “The physician’s duty to report is less clear in cases where the mother is an adult and might depend on whether she was a minor or an adult at the time she became pregnant.”
The Lancet was founded in 1823 by Thomas Wakley as a weekly medical newspaper. It remains independent, without affiliation to a medical or scientific organization. It strives to uphold the highest standard of scientific rigour and has been referenced by nearly every country in the world. Today, the Lancet is one of the foremost general medical journals in the world, that publishes ground-breaking research and helps to shape a global medical agenda.