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Genomic Medicine: A Great Leap Forward?

Another anomaly on chromosome 16 was found to be associated statistically with autism, the condition in which children display difficulty in forming relationships with other people, suffer from compulsively repetitive behavior, demonstrate a narrow range of interests, and (not in every case) experience low intelligence. But the same anomaly has also been found in children of low intelligence and a propensity to obesity, as well as an early propensity to obesity without low intelligence, or no abnormality at all. In other words, it is difficult to say at the moment what this finding actually means. The cliché that further research is required applies here: one of the reasons that clichés are clichés being that they are obviously true.

The alert lawyer with an interest in tort will have spotted an opportunity in all this (heaven forbid that I should give him any ideas!). If certain genetic anomalies are strongly connected, statistically or otherwise, with defects of intelligence or conduct, how long can it be before doctors are blamed for the wrongful birth of those born with the genetic defects of intelligence or behavior that are so connected? If I know lawyers, not very long; they will promote "wrongful birth" as a legal specialty it itself; and so the predominant tendency of our time, the diversion of money from the pockets of the productive into the pockets of the unproductive, will receive yet a further impetus.