FRIDAY, July 30 (HealthDay News) -- The increasing availability
of direct-to-consumer genetic screening tests in the United States
increases the risk that consumers will order inappropriate tests or
misinterpret the results, warns the National Society of Genetic
In the absence of federal regulations governing genetic testing,
consumers should get the advice of a genetic counselor or clinical
geneticist before they have a genetic screening test, the group
"Genetic tests can reveal life-changing information, both positive and negative, but misinterpreting test results can be dangerous," Elizabeth Kearney, president of the NSGC, said in a society news release.
"The most important first step for consumers to understand when considering genetic testing is what can be learned from the test, and the impact the results could have on their lives and families," she said. "Genetic testing should only be done through guidance of a genetic counselor or health care provider whose role is to protect the consumer, and assure they have appropriate testing and an accurate understanding of the results."
The NSGC cautions that people who undergo genetic screening
tests without the advice of a genetic counselor may:
- Receive a series of test results but won't get answers to their
- Get test results that cause alarm but won't have anyone to talk
to about their concerns.
- Not know what action to take based on test results or may pay
for information they already know.
The group also notes that genetic counselors should have
specialized training in medical genetics and a master's degree in
The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about