With the recent expansion of genetic science, its evolving translation to clinical medicine, and the growing number of available resources for genomics in primary care, the primary care provider must increasingly integrate genetics and genomics into daily practice. Because primary care medicine combines the treatment of acute illness with disease prevention and anticipatory guidance, the primary care provider is in an ideal position to evaluate and treat patients for genetic disease. The notion that genetic knowledge is only rarely needed will have to be replaced with a comprehensive approach that integrates “genetic thinking” into every patient encounter. Genomic competencies will need to be added to the primary care provider’s repertoire; such competencies include prevention, assessment, evaluation, and diagnosis of genetic conditions; the ordering and interpreting of genetic tests; communication with families; appropriate referrals; and the management or comanagement of care. The process of deciding when to order genetic tests, what tests to order, and how to interpret the results is complex, and the tests and their results have specific risks and benefits, especially for pediatric patients. The longitudinal nature of primary pediatric care provides the opportunity to obtain and continually update the family history, which is the most powerful initial genetic “test.” The ongoing provider–family relationship, coupled with the astounding number of advances in genetic and genomic testing, also necessitates a constant re-evaluation of past diagnosis or nondiagnosis.
Primary Care and Genetics and Genomics
FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE: The authors have indicated they have no financial relationships relevant to this article to disclose.
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Joan Scott, Tracy Trotter; Primary Care and Genetics and Genomics. Pediatrics December 2013; 132 (Supplement_3): S231–S237. 10.1542/peds.2013-1032H
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