In debates about genetic testing of children, as well as about disclosing unsolicited findings (UFs) of pediatric exome sequencing, respect for future autonomy should be regarded as a prima facie consideration for not taking steps that would entail denying the future adult the opportunity to decide for herself about what to know about her own genome. While the argument can be overridden when other, morally more weighty considerations are at stake, whether this is the case can only be determined in concrete cases. Importantly, when children grow into adolescents, respect for future autonomy will have to give way to respecting their emerging autonomy. When pediatric exome sequencing is done for complex conditions not involving developmental delay, respect for the child’s future or emerging autonomy should be a primary consideration for those charged with deciding on behalf of the child. Building on what Emanuel and Emanuel have termed the ‘deliberative model’ of shared decision making, we argue that if parents fail to give these considerations their due, professionals should actively invite them to do so. Taking a directive stance may be needed in order to make sure that the future or emerging autonomy of the child are duly considered in the decision-making process, but also to help the parents and themselves to shape their respective roles as responsible care-givers.

Clinical sequencing, Ethics, Future autonomy, Pediatrics, Shared decision making, Unsollicited findings,
Health Care Analysis: an international journal of health care philosophy and policy
Department of Public Health

Dondorp, W.J, Bolt, L.L.E, Tibben, A, de Wert, G.M.W.R, & van Summeren, M.J.H. (2021). ‘We Should View Him as an Individual’: The Role of the Child’s Future Autonomy in Shared Decision-Making About Unsolicited Findings in Pediatric Exome Sequencing. Health Care Analysis: an international journal of health care philosophy and policy. doi:10.1007/s10728-020-00425-7