UCL Division of Biosciences


Concerns raised regarding plan to genome sequence all newborn babies

23 November 2021

In an article in the British Medical Journal, Professor David Curtis argues that a proposal to sequence all newborn babies in the UK is problematic and that the risks outweigh the benefits

Photo by <a href=https://freeimages.com/photographer/trnavacka-57976>Soňa Psotová</a> from <a href=https://freeimages.com>FreeImages</a>

Photo by Soňa Psotová from FreeImages

Genomics England have proposed that all babies born in the UK should be sequenced at birth and consultation is under way to embark on a pilot project to evaluate this. In a Head To Head article in the British Medical Journal, a group of geneticists argue in favour of obtaining a genome sequence at birth from every baby and subsequently using it to screen for relevant conditions at different ages. David Curtis responds that obtaining a genome sequence entails discovering a huge amount of private information from an individual who is unable to consent while providing very little in terms of potential benefit. Such information is vulnerable to being abused in a number of ways and since we do not currently sequence all adults there is no justification to sequence babies.


Should all babies have their genome sequenced at birth? Leslie G Biesecker, Eric D Green, Teri Manolio, Benjamin D Solomon, David Curtis. https://www.bmj.com/content/375/bmj.n2679