To test or not to test? Debate surrounds genetic testing in children

Americans spent $5 billion on genetic testing in 2010, and that number is expected to quintuple in the next decade. CBS News

(CBS News) Technological advances in genetic testing lend parents new insight about their children's risk factors for developing diseases later in life. The issue has been the subject of heated debate as parents grapple with the pros and cons of testing themselves and their children.

The tests -- a full genome sequencing -- take as little as two days and cost approximately $7,500 for a full genetic transcript of a child. These genetic tests can indicate early risk factors for a range of disease, including Parkinson's disease and certain cancers.

TIME magazine senior editor Jeff Kluger spoke on the issue -- and about what parents can do with the information if their children undergo genetic testing -- Thursday, on "CBS This Morning."

The upcoming issue of TIME magazine will feature a cover story dealing with the subject, "Want to Know My Future? New Genetic Tests Can Point to Risks, But Not Always a Cure."

Kluger said, "We can learn decades before a disease expresses itself if somebody has a predisposition to it," but added that issues arise when "there are no intervention or minimal interventions," for those diseases.

"It's worth doing the testing if there are either cures or early intervention," Kluger said, citing conditions like macular degeneration or Alzheimer's as diseases that can be prevent or delayed by early intervention. But, Kluger admitted that he has not and will not get his own children tested, because "it would cause more worry" and it can "effect your own quality of life" and possibly cause you to "subject yourself or your children to painful medical tests" that will not yield any concrete results.

For more from Kluger on the ups and down of genetic testing, watch the video above.

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