Attitudes towards carrier testing in minors: a systematic review

Genet Couns. 2005;16(4):341-52.


The objective of this article is to review the attitudes of the different stakeholders (minors, healthcare professionals, parents and relatives of affected individuals) towards carrier testing in minors. The databases Pubmed, Google Scholar, Psychinfo, Biological Abstracts, Francis, Anthropological Index online, Web of Science, and Sociological Abstracts were searched using key words for the period 1990-2004. Studies were included if they were published in a peer reviewed journal in English and described the attitudes of minors, parents or healthcare professionals towards carrier testing in minors in a family context. The results were presented in a summary form. In total 20 relevant studies were retrieved (2 studies reported the attitudes of two stakeholders). Only one study reported the attitudes of adolescents, two studies reported the attitudes of adults who had undergone carrier testing in childhood. In total six studies have been retrieved discussing the parental attitudes towards carrier testing in their children. Over all studies, most parents showed interest in detecting their children's carrier status and responded they wanted their child tested before the age of majority: some parents even before 12 years. Eight studies were retrieved that reported the attitudes of relatives of affected individuals. Most were in favor of carrier testing before 18 years. The studies retrieved suggest that most parents are interested in the carrier status of their children and want their children to be tested before they reach legal majority (and some even in childhood). This can lead to tensions between parents and healthcare professionals regarding carrier testing in minors. Guidelines of healthcare professionals advise to defer carrier testing on the grounds that children should be able to decide for themselves later in life to request a carrier test or not.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adrenoleukodystrophy / diagnosis
  • Adrenoleukodystrophy / genetics
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Attitude*
  • Child
  • Cystic Fibrosis / diagnosis
  • Cystic Fibrosis / genetics
  • Fragile X Syndrome / diagnosis
  • Fragile X Syndrome / genetics
  • Genetic Carrier Screening / methods*
  • Glucosephosphate Dehydrogenase Deficiency / diagnosis
  • Glucosephosphate Dehydrogenase Deficiency / genetics
  • Hemophilia A / diagnosis
  • Hemophilia A / genetics
  • Humans
  • Muscular Dystrophy, Duchenne / diagnosis
  • Muscular Dystrophy, Duchenne / genetics
  • Parents
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • beta-Thalassemia / diagnosis
  • beta-Thalassemia / genetics