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Ukrainian-American Birth Defects Program

Abstracts of the Reports of the UABDP Participants
of the 2-nd National Bioethics Congress

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October 1, 2004

Prevention of Birth Defects and Bioethics

Nataliya Zymak-Zakutnya
Khmelnytsky Medical Genetic Consultation

Ihor Barylyak
Scientific Center of Medical Radiology
Academy of Medical Sciences of Ukraine

Wolodymyr Wertelecki
Department of Medical Genetics
University of South Alabama (USA)

Nataliya Zymak-Zakutnya, M.D.
Reporter Dr. Nataliya Zymak-Zakutnya

"Mankind participates in two evolutions - biological and cultural. They are not independent but interdependent. They could be understood only as the components of the same system."
T. Dobrzhansky

The possibilities of both the prenatal and postnatal diagnosis and birth defects correction grow together with improvement of the contemporary medical research methods (instrumental, laboratory). However, this does not diminish their medical and social importance; they still remain one of the urgent health care problems.

At the same time this process is accompanied by fast widening of the range of ethical problems primarily connected with the level of parental knowledge of the disease essence, diagnostic and therapeutic possibilities (which sometimes are very discordant), the disease prognosis, methods of care and prevention. From the point of view of bioethics, the secondary prevention arouses a lot of stipulations because it implies prenatal revealing and pregnancy breaking in case of diagnosing an incompatible with life disease (although even this maxim is relative according to the definition of the quality of life which depends on the level of medical possibilities). Evidently, the most promising way is introduction of sufficiently effective and well-developed methods of primary prevention of most common birth defects (prevention of neural tube defects and cono-truncal heart defects by folic acid, fetal alcohol effects, fetal rubella syndrome etc.).

The matters of principle are:

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19/November/2004 sl