There is no prenatal genetic test for autism; there has been speculation that, as research into the genetics of autism develops, such a test might be created. Back in June of 2006, a team of doctors at University College Hospital in London—in view of the fact that autism is diagnosed in boys at a much higher rate than in girls—announced that they hoped to develop a test to screen for autism in male embryos for couples with a family history of autism. The test would use Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD), which screens embryos by taking a single cell from an early stage embryo; embryos with defective genes are discarded.
But how reliable are genetic and other prenatal tests for gender? Today’s Eye on DNA offers a thoughtful overview of the reliability of gender test kits (that cost $300 and even less) that analyze a mother’s blood for fetal DNA; Dr. Hsien Hsien Lei offers some tips for choosing a reputable genetic testing company and quotes William Saletan in Slate:
Notice how the new transforms the old. What’s old is sex selection: choosing whether to abort your fetus based on whether it’s a boy or a girl. What’s new is the combination of ease, safety, and privacy with which you can now do this deed.
And what’s necessary is to get out the message that life with an autistic child (with mine, at any rate) might just be too good to miss out on.