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Digital Imagery and Child Embodiment in Paediatric Genetics: Sources and Relationships of Meaning

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Janice McLaughlinORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0).


Paediatric genetics involves multiple visually based diagnostic processes. While examining the external features of a child plays an important role, of increasing importance are biochemical analyses of blood, which produce digital diagrams that display variations in the shape and composition of chromosomes. The level of magnification and detail that can now be captured is allowing new patterns of variation to be ‘seen’ and possible diagnosis to be made, which were not possible before. However, this generates questions about whether these forms of genetic diagnosis and digital visualisation are increasing the scope of medicine to define the body as ill – regardless of whether symptoms are present. This article, drawing from research in a paediatric genetic service, cautions against giving too much power to digital imagery. It does so by arguing that the imagery is only one source of visualisation relevant to how the child’s body is read and understood.

Publication metadata

Author(s): McLaughlin J

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Sociology

Year: 2014

Volume: 48

Issue: 2

Pages: 216-232

Print publication date: 01/04/2014

Online publication date: 11/03/2013

Acceptance date: 01/11/2012

Date deposited: 09/06/2014

ISSN (print): 0038-0385

ISSN (electronic): 1469-8684

Publisher: Sage Publications Ltd


DOI: 10.1177/0038038512472774


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