Attitudes of pregnant women and male partners towards non-invasive prenatal testing and widening the scope of prenatal screening

R.V. van Schendel, J.H. Kleinveld, W.J. Dondorp, E. Pajkrt, D.R.M. Timmermans, K.C.A. Holtkamp, M. Karsten, A.L. Vlietstra, A.M.A. Lachmeijer, L. Henneman

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Abstract

Non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) and its potential to test for multiple disorders has received much attention. This study explores attitudes of women and men towards NIPT, and their views on widening the scope of prenatal testing in a country with a low uptake of prenatal screening (The Netherlands). Five focus groups with low-risk pregnant women (n=28), three focus groups with men (n=19) and 13 interviews with high- and low-risk pregnant women were conducted. Participants felt that current prenatal screening has great disadvantages such as uncertain results and risk of miscarriage from follow-up diagnostics. Characteristics of NIPT (accurate, safe and early testing) could therefore diminish these disadvantages of prenatal screening and help lower the barrier for participation. This suggests that NIPT might allow couples to decide about prenatal testing based mostly on their will to test or not, rather than largely based on fear of miscarriage risk or the uncertainty of results. The lower barrier for participation was also seen as a downside that could lead to uncritical use or pressure to test. Widening the scope of prenatal testing was seen as beneficial for severe disorders, although it was perceived difficult to determine where to draw the line. Participants argued that there should be a limit to the scope of NIPT, avoiding testing for minor abnormalities. The findings suggest that NIPT could enable more meaningful decision-making for prenatal screening. However, to ensure voluntary participation, especially when testing for multiple disorders, safeguards on the basis of informed decision-making will be of utmost importance.European Journal of Human Genetics advance online publication, 19 March 2014; doi:10.1038/ejhg.2014.32.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1345-1350
JournalEuropean Journal of Human Genetics
Volume22
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014

Cite this

van Schendel, R. V., Kleinveld, J. H., Dondorp, W. J., Pajkrt, E., Timmermans, D. R. M., Holtkamp, K. C. A., Karsten, M., Vlietstra, A. L., Lachmeijer, A. M. A., & Henneman, L. (2014). Attitudes of pregnant women and male partners towards non-invasive prenatal testing and widening the scope of prenatal screening. European Journal of Human Genetics, 22, 1345-1350. https://doi.org/10.1038/ejhg.2014.32