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Reframing pathological heredity: Pedigrees, molecules, and genetic counseling in postwar France

Abstract : This paper explores the history of genetic counseling and prenatal diagnosis during the 20th century in France. The perspective adopted here is to reflect upon the ways in which medical practices were impacted by the molecularization of diseases and heredity that took place after World War II, and how this process changed the management of pregnancy and the care of newborns. The paper is organized into three sections. The first discusses the legacy of eugenics and the specificity of the configuration prevailing in France, which linked social medicine, natalism, and the definition of pathological inheritance. The second section describes how the development of biomedical research after 1945 resulted in a new—molecular—definition of hereditary pathology with the emergence of genetic counseling as a correlate. The third section is more speculative and presents a few hypotheses regarding the mass development of genetic diagnosis in the 1970s and 1980s, and its technological roots. To make this overview more concrete and specific, the paper follows the uses of family trees as markers of this transformation.
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https://hal-cnrs.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-03477709
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Submitted on : Monday, December 13, 2021 - 3:14:45 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, December 15, 2021 - 11:27:44 AM

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Jean-Paul Gaudillière. Reframing pathological heredity: Pedigrees, molecules, and genetic counseling in postwar France. Alter: European Journal of Disability Research / Revue européenne de recherche sur le handicap, Elsevier Masson, 2011, 5 (1), pp.7-15. ⟨10.1016/j.alter.2010.11.004⟩. ⟨hal-03477709⟩

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