Survey of attitudes of pregnant women towards Down syndrome screening

Prenat Diagn. 2000 Jan;20(1):23-9. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1097-0223(200001)20:1<23::aid-pd746>;2-t.


This study aimed to examine whether pregnant women made informed decisions based on an accurate understanding of the antenatal screening process and to explore their attitude to screening and termination of a Down syndrome fetus. Women's aspirations were the keystone that informed the development of the first strategy for antenatal screening for congenital anomalies. Semi-structured interviews were carried out with a sample of pregnant women in South Wales in 1995. A total of 34 women aged less than 35 years, who were 20 weeks pregnant, were interviewed. These women were selected because the screening policy differed between hospitals for this age group. The majority of women were not aware that screening tests were voluntary: tests were presented as routine. About half of the sample were not well informed to make decisions. Only five out of a sampling frame of 101 women refused screening; they tended to be better educated and of higher social class. All women wanted to be given the choice whether to be screened. Seven out of 34 would not terminate an affected fetus. Staff communication skills, especially in delivering risk estimate, were criticized. The survey findings supported the view that women required an information package tailored to their individual needs.

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Therapeutic
  • Adult
  • Attitude*
  • Down Syndrome / diagnosis*
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Informed Consent
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Diagnosis*