Prenatal screening for cystic fibrosis

Lancet. 1992 Jul 25;340(8813):214-6. doi: 10.1016/0140-6736(92)90476-j.


Screening for carriers of CF (cystic fibrosis) is now possible but the best way of delivering such a service is unknown. In one model 4348 women attending antenatal clinics in an Edinburgh maternity hospital were invited to participate in a trial of prenatal screening. Mouthwash samples were tested for six CF alleles (85% of mutant genes) and when a woman was found to be a CF carrier her partner was also tested. Heterozygous couples were offered prenatal diagnosis. 609 (14%) women declined to enter the trial and another 574 (13%) were not screened, usually because of late booking. Among the remaining 3165 women there were 111 carriers of a CF gene (1 in 29). 4 of these 111 had carrier partners and these couples opted for prenatal diagnosis, the 1 pregnancy with an affected fetus being terminated. The psychological impact of screening was assessed by the general health questionnaire. There was a significant increase in stress at the time of the test result among women identified as carriers. However, this disappeared when their male partners tested normal and did not reappear later in the pregnancy. By providing time for couples to discuss the possibility of screening and by offering the test at a point (the antenatal booking clinic) at which most pregnant women are seen, this approach has advantages, provided that counselling is readily available.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Carrier State / diagnosis*
  • Cystic Fibrosis / genetics
  • Cystic Fibrosis / prevention & control*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Information Dissemination
  • Mass Screening / methods*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnant Women*
  • Prenatal Diagnosis / methods*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires