Determining our children's future health

Professor Eric Haan

Professor Eric Haan
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Wednesday, 10 June 2009

How accurately can we predict what the future holds for a child's health through genetic testing? Would it be in the child's best interests and who decides?

These and other questions on 'Genetics and Disease in Children' will be discussed by Clinical Geneticist Professor Eric Haan, presenter of the 5th annual Healthy Development Adelaide (HDA) Oration tomorrow night, Thursday 11 June.

Professor Haan is Head of the South Australian Clinical Genetics Service of SA Pathology and a Clinical Affiliate Professor in the University of Adelaide's Discipline of Paediatrics.

At the Oration, he will be presented with the Healthy Development Adelaide Award for 2009 for excellence in research contributing to healthy development.

Professor Haan will talk about the genetic and environmental influences of healthy development, and the ethical and other issues surrounding the potential for genetic testing.

"Research into how the environment influences gene expression is increasingly providing evidence that the prenatal and postnatal environments need to be optimised to maximise the chance that a child will be a physically and mentally healthy adult," Professor Haan says.

New technology and increasingly available genetic information are also opening the way for predictions of an individual's chance of development health problems.

"In the future it may be appropriate to genetically test children in a medical setting if it is in the child's best interest," says Professor Haan. "But determining the child's best interest can be difficult."

Professor Haan spends most of his professional time providing individuals and families with genetic diagnosis, counselling and testing.

He has been a member of several national committees addressing issues related to genetics and is a past President of the Human Genetics Society of Australasia and the International Federation of Human Genetics Societies.

The 5th annual HDA Oration will be held at 5.30pm, at the Institute Building Lecture Theatre, State Library of South Australia.

HDA was established in 2004 as an initiative of the University of Adelaide and is now a state-wide research and innovation cluster in South Australia. HDA fosters research in over 20 disciplines, working to develop a portfolio for SA in developmental health research to ensure the physical, psychological and social health of Australian infants, children and adolescents. See www.adelaide.edu.au/hda

 

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