OTTAWA, June 20, 2012 /CNW/ - Featured in the May edition of the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada is a new guide to help doctors, nurses and midwives counsel their
patients about prenatal genetic screening.
One of the greatest sources of stress for expectant parents is their
concern about the health of their baby. While prenatal screening can
help provide parents with some insight into the condition of the foetus
the mother is carrying, expectations must be carefully managed. Counseling considerations for prenatal genetic screening is designed to facilitate this important discussion between health-care
providers and their patients.
All pregnant women have some chance of having a baby with a chromosomal
abnormality (having too many, too few or defective chromosomes) or a
neural tube defect (problem with the brain or spinal cord development).
While prenatal screening does not detect whether or not there are
defective chromosomes or too few of them, a mother can have tests done
to assess the risk that her baby has extra chromosomes (trisomies) 18
or 21. These tests are commonly referred to as prenatal genetic
testing. The screening processes essentially consist of gathering data
from ultrasounds and samples of a woman's blood to be tested for signs
of certain conditions. These tests are intended to identify women who
are at increased risk of having a child with an anomaly.
"The results of prenatal tests should not be considered a diagnosis.
They only provide parents with an indication of the likelihood/chances
that their baby may have a condition," said Dr. Lynn Murphy-Kaulbeck, one of the principal
authors of the new committee opinion and member of the SOGC's Genetics
Because prenatal screening is voluntary, it is critical for health-care
professionals to ensure that their patients understand the different
types of prenatal tests that exist, which ones are available in their
community, what the procedures consist of, how "positive" or "negative"
results should be interpreted, and how these results can be used to
support the decision-making process with respect to the management of a
Before proceeding with prenatal screening, prospective parents should
carefully consider how they would make use of the results obtained from
the tests. Would it affect their decision to proceed with a pregnancy?
Would it help them plan for the birth of a baby that may require
special care? Would it reduce or increase maternal stress during the
pregnancy? Only answers to these questions will help determine if
couples should proceed with prenatal genetic testing.
Dr. Murphy-Kaulbeck added that "Prospective parents must be realistic
about what prenatal screening can offer them. They, in return, must be
clear about what they would do with the information once they receive
it. Our role as health-care professionals is to provide patients with
the counseling and support they need to make informed decisions
throughout the pregnancy."
SOURCE Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada
For further information:
Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada
Communications and Public Education
Tel: (613) 730-4192 or Toll-free: 1-800-561-2416, ext. 366
Cell: (613) 240-0169 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.sogc.org
The guideline is available on the SOGC home page in the Clinical Practice Guidelines section.