AJN On the Cover
The newborn on our cover this month is wrapped in a blanket decorated with a string of letters—better known as genetic code. Today, all newborns in the United States are screened for various inherited and congenital conditions, but the use of genomic sequencing at birth could supply information far beyond what current screening already provides—health information to go in their medical records for use in detecting and managing disease and informing medical decisions throughout their lives. This is something the National Institutes of Health is exploring through its Genomic Sequencing and Newborn Screening Disorders Research Program. The idea is not without controversy, however, and raises concerns as to who owns this data and how much information providers should report to families.
Cystic fibrosis (CF) is one disorder that has been affected by recent developments in the field of genetics. The discovery of the CF gene in 1989, along with advances in molecular genetics, made it possible to screen for CF through DNA testing. Early diagnosis and prompt treatment of CF has been shown to improve patients’ overall health and survival. Genetic advances have also led to the development of promising drugs to treat CF, a breakthrough in treatment previously focused on managing symptoms and minimizing complications. For more on this topic, see this month's CE feature, “Genomic Breakthroughs in the Diagnosis and Treatment of Cystic Fibrosis.”—Michael Fergenson, senior editorial coordinator