Consumerism in prenatal diagnosis? A local Italian study

Fetal Diagn Ther. 2008;24(1):29-34. doi: 10.1159/000132402. Epub 2008 May 27.


Aim: To assess the causes of excessive use of prenatal diagnosis.

Material and methods: 304 questionnaires were completed anonymously by puerperae in a Siena (Italy) hospital in May-August 2006. The questionnaires contained 24 questions about the women, examinations performed during pregnancy and the reasons for them.

Results: The mean number of ultrasound examinations per woman was 6.5 +/- 2.5. Forty-two percent of the women in our sample (29.3% of women under 35 and 68.9% of women over 35 years of age) reported that amniocentesis/CVS had been performed; the mean age of these women was 34.1 +/- 4.5 years. Eighty-five percent of the women under 36 years of age who had amniocentesis declared that it was performed as a personal choice and 15% for the presence of risk factors. Among 131 women who performed amniocentesis, 32 performed it with a normal blood screening for Down syndrome (DS), and 76 declared to have performed no blood screening for DS. Only 45% of women stated that they thought age above 35 years was a risk factor for pregnancy, but most of them (75%) were aware that amniocentesis was performed to detect chromosomal anomalies. In 89% of the cases a source of information about prenatal testing was the woman's gynecologist.

Conclusion: This study shows that the high use of prenatal examinations is often not justified by the presence of clinical risk factors and that both national health system and caregivers should find new strategies to inform women about the aims of prenatal tests, and promote a more serene approach to pregnancy. A broader study is needed to confirm these data.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Maternal Age
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Diagnosis / adverse effects
  • Prenatal Diagnosis / psychology*
  • Prenatal Diagnosis / statistics & numerical data
  • Risk Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors