WASHINGTON - An influential scientific panel's recommendation last week that all couples planning a pregnancy be offered a genetic test for cystic fibrosis (CF) is an important milestone for the genetic testing industry because it is the first time a group with international standing has recommended large-scale genetic testing.

Clinical adoption of the recommendation would greatly enlarge the market currently served by Genzyme Corp.'s Genzyme Genetics unit and other testing services. Less than 5 percent of the 4 million couples who have children every year in the U.S. are tested for mutations associated with CF.