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(Un)informed choice in antenatal screening

Posted in Screening, Support services, Surveys by Matt at WelcometoIllinois on July 10, 2008

No sooner had I written “any decision must be made from a position of knowledge and understanding and that test results and statistics unfortunately provide parents with neither” than I saw this story about a research project in the UK related to antenatal screening.

Carried out by The Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities, the report discovered that “pregnant women and their partners do not always receive the information they need to help them to make decisions about antenatal screening” and that “midwives and obstetricians often feel they lack vital information about disability to guide expectant parents through the screening for fetal abnormality.”

According to the press release:

“Researchers gathered views from 135 prospective parents and 100 health professionals, mainly midwives, across the UK to find out what sort of information was given out at antenatal screenings and to find out how they felt the process could be improved. Their findings included:

  • Parents felt that they did not have enough time to consider their decisions and that sometimes screening was not discussed until the second trimester. Many midwives said that they did not have enough time to spend on the issue of screening.
  • Parents and midwives both felt that too much information was given about birth and postnatal care at early appointments at the expense of information about screening.
  • Concerns were raised about how parents who have difficulty reading or those with English as a second language access printed information.
  • Pregnant women and their partners felt that a decision about screening should be made by both parents but most midwives said that they only involved the father ‘if they happened to be present’.
  • Concerns were expressed about the way that having a child with Down syndrome is presented as a wholly negative experience.”

It also states that: “Our research has shown that parents think knowing about the life of a person with Down syndrome is important when making their decision about screening, but only half the parents in the study had ever known a person with Down syndrome. Balanced information about what it is like to have the condition or raise a child with Down syndrome is needed.”

The research has already been presented to the head of the antenatal section of the UK National Screening Committee.

Very encouraging.

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2 Responses

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  1. […] problem with ante-natal screening When I first started writing this blog I was pretty negative about screening for Down’s syndrome, arguing that not enough thought was put into why the […]

  2. […] Foundation for People with Learning Difficulties pointed out in July that “pregnant women and their partners do not always receive the information they need […]


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