Most of us would love to know what lies in store for our kids in terms of their future health. Now, being forewarned about potential health problems our kids could experience as they grow up is a reality.

A revolutionary new genetic screening test for newborns, developed by Australian genetic pathology practice, Genepath Laboratories is now available to Australian parents.

Genepath’s Clinical Services Director, Dr Glenn Bennett answers a few questions about the test and its role in identifying serious genetic conditions.

Don’t newborns already get screened for genetic conditions in hospital?

The NextGen test, developed over four years in our Sydney lab, has been designed to complement existing newborn screening offered in Australia– the ‘heel-prick’ test. Our NextGen test screens for more than 60, mostly treatable conditions, including 50 that are not screen for in Australia. Babies who have both the heel-prick test and the NextGen test will have had the most comprehensive genetic screening available in Australia.

What health conditions does the NextGen test screen for?

The conditions the NextGen test screens for include some of the genetic causes of sudden cardiac death in children (Long QT syndrome, Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome), and one of the major causes of preventable heart attack in young adults (Familial Hypercholesterolaemia). It can also identify Cystic Fibrosisand is one of the most comprehensive tests for Cystic Fibrosis currently available in Australia.

Who can take the test? Who benefits most?

The NextGen test can be taken by babies, children and adults, but the major benefit is for newborns or very young babies. This is because many of the genetic conditions the test screens for will begin to show symptoms within the baby’s first year.

How can I access the NextGen test?

NextGen test kits are available to purchase online, at which point you nominate your GP who will receive your results and meet with you to explain them. Genepath will also arrange for you to speak to a doctor or genetic counsellor to answer all your questions.

Genepath has designed this test to be accessible to all Australians – we aim to make high-quality, evidence-based genetic testing for serious medical conditions easily accessible to everyone.

How long do the results take?

Genepath will send a comprehensive report of the test results to your nominated doctor within four to six weeks, and you’ll be notified once the results are ready. Parents then attend a consultation with their doctor to go through the results, to make sure all of the information is understood, and to discuss any action required. If required, Genepath will work closely with the requesting doctor to help arrange any further testing or specialist referrals.

What does it cost?

The NextGen test costs AUD$980.

You can find out more about the NextGen test, including a complete list of all of the genetic conditions screened for, and how to order the test kit, on the Genepath website