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PurposeThe aim of expanded preconception carrier screening (ECS) is to inform any couple wishing to conceive about their chances of having children with severe autosomal or X-linked recessive conditions. Responsible implementation of ECS as reproductive genetic screening in routine care requires assessment of benefits and harms. We examined the psychological outcomes of couple-based ECS for 50 autosomal recessive (AR) conditions provided by general practitioners (GPs) to couples from the Dutch general population.MethodsDutch GPs invited 4,295 women aged 18-40. We examined anxiety (State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, STAI-6), worry, decisional conflict (DCS) over time in participants declining GP counseling or attending GP counseling with/without testing.ResultsOne hundred ninety couples participated; 130 attended counseling, of whom 117 proceeded with testing. No carrier couples were identified. Before counseling, worry (median 6.0) and anxiety (mean 30-34) were low and lower than the population reference (36.4), although some individuals reported increased anxiety or worry. At follow-up, test acceptors reported less anxiety than test decliners (mean 29 vs. 35); differences in anxiety after testing compared to before counseling were not meaningful. Most participants (90%) were satisfied with their decision (not) to undergo testing.ConclusionSome individuals reported temporarily clinically relevant distress. Overall, the psychological outcomes are acceptable and no barrier to population-wide implementation.

Original publication

DOI

10.1038/s41436-021-01199-6

Type

Journal article

Journal

Genetics in medicine : official journal of the American College of Medical Genetics

Publication Date

09/2021

Volume

23

Pages

1761 - 1768

Addresses

Department of Genetics, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands. e.birnie@umcg.nl.

Keywords

Humans, Intention, Genetic Counseling, Reproduction, Child, Female, Genetic Testing, General Practitioners, Genetic Carrier Screening