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Parent’s views on genetic screening before pregnancy


Technologies to screen for genetic carrier status have advanced in recent years. It is now possible to screen for several genetic disorders before pregnancy. But do future parents want to find out what disorders they might pass on to their children?  

A group of researchers at Uppsala University (Maria Ekstrand Ragnar, Tanja Tydén, Ulrik Kihlbom and Margareta Larsson) looked at how 777 couples in the Swedish Pregnancy Planning study think about preconception genetic carrier screening (PCS). It turned out that one third of parents could consider screening before pregnancy, while slightly less than one third would not.

Ulrik Kihlbom
Ulrik Kihlbom, Senior lecturer in medical ethics

Ulrik Kihlbom is one of the authors. He believes that it is important to take parent’s views into consideration before making policy decisions about whether to offer PCS in health care.

”The results of this study indicate both differences in attitudes toward genetic information in the reproductive context as well as considerable uncertainty. One third of the parents were uncertain whether they would want to have such information.  This kind of screening is not implemented in Sweden so maybe this is not so unsurprising", says Ulrik Kihlbom.

According to the authors, both men and women are uncertain about PCS. Women expressed more concern about negative consequences of screening than the men. People who had experience of prenatal diagnosis were more interested in PCS. For women, there was also a correlation between positive attitudes to PCS and sex selection. Men with low self-rated health and positive attitudes to prenatal diagnostics and pregnancy planning also expressed more interest in PCS.

Read article in the Upsala Journal of Medical Sciences: Swedish parents’ interest in preconception genetic carrier screening