Genetics Overview


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Research in genetics continues to realize new products and services available to the public. Correspondingly, state legislatures and government agencies are evaluating how they might ensure that all consumers can reap the benefits of genetic technology. States first became involved in providing genetic services when programs to screen newborns for inherited disorders began in the 1960s. Newborn screening programs remain a vital component of state public health services and have expanded significantly in recent years with the advent of new screening tools. Dramatic changes in other areas of genetics also have occurred. Today, states have a stake in access to other genetic services; education of health professionals and the public; surveillance, data and information systems; research involving diseases caused by genetic or a mix of genetic and environmental factors; and antidiscrimination measures and privacy protections for genetic information. Frequent reports about research identifying new genetic links to many common illnesses—from cancer to schizophrenia—are a clear indication that this trend will continue.

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