What Prenatal Testing for Autism Might Look and Feel Like
One of the most troubling issues related to autism research is the likelihood that some of it will be used to create prenatal tests that may result in fetuses being aborted if they show a likelihood of developing autism. Neuroskeptic imagines a couple who pay for a test that uses de novo mutations in this way:
A few days later the results are back. There are several mismatches detected. Most are benign - they're not predicted to have any biological effects. But there's one, a deletion of a few thousand bases in a gene involved in brain development. This deletion is predicted to raise the risk of epilepsy and autism from 1% to 10% apiece.
The parents now have a decision to make. The mutation is a one off, it's not inherited. If they conceive again... roll the dice again... and it'll be gone. Do they terminate?
Like the adverts say, "Some people disagree with this, but we say there's only one person who really matters: your baby."
This is an issue that is not going away. These tests may end up being very inaccurate, but I think they will happen. And what you think about them might end up mattering a lot.