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About Imagining Futures

Developments in genetic medicine over the past 50 years have had a great impact on the number and nature of decisions to be made by prospective parents.

In coming years, these decisions appear set to increase as the UK government considers the introduction of pre-conception and prenatal genetic screening. Imagining Futures is a research project that will explore the social and ethical implications of this screening, using the condition, Spinal Muscular Atrophy, as an example.

What is Prenatal Genetic Screening?

Pre-conception and prenatal genetic screening involve the genetic testing of couples or pregnant women to see if they are carriers of a genetic disease. Previously, this testing was reserved only for people with a known history of genetic disease in their family, which means that they would usually chromosomes_with_pen.jpgbe familiar with the effects of the condition.

The introduction of genetic screening would mean that everyone could have tests to see if they are carriers of genetic conditions, either before conception or after a pregnancy is established. The general public would therefore need to make decisions about being screened for conditions that they may have never experienced or heard of.

Families living with genetic conditions can offer unique insights into what it's like to live with the conditions that can be screened for: their attitudes to screening, and the way in which they make decisions about using such tests, can tell us a lot about how valuable 'experiential knowledge' is in reproductive decision making, and consequently help us to anticipate some potential issues that extending genetic screening programmes to those without such knowledge might bring.

++ Imagining Futures Project

++ Key Research Questions

++ Findings and Relevance

++ Project Timetable

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Funded by Wellcome