Parental attitudes on expanded newborn screening in Hong Kong

Public Health. 2012 Nov;126(11):954-9. doi: 10.1016/j.puhe.2012.08.002. Epub 2012 Nov 10.


Objectives: Classical inborn errors of metabolism (IEM) affect about 1 in 4000 in Hong Kong. Despite the widespread implementation of expanded newborn screening in most countries, Hong Kong only screen for three conditions and the awareness of public has not been evaluated. This is the first study to examine the parental knowledge and attitudes towards expanded newborn screening in Hong Kong.

Methods: A cross-sectional survey was conducted in the Princess Margaret Hospital. Parents with babies born from 1st July to 31st October 2010 were randomly recruited. Fifteen questions relating to the knowledge of newborn screening and biochemical genetic disorders, preferences about the features of newborn screening, the economic values, and attitudes toward false positive results were asked.

Results: In total, 172 subjects were interviewed by phone (overall response rate 97.2%). There were 87.8% parents who had never heard of expanded newborn screening; 99.4% demanded more parental education; 83.5% thought the programme should be implemented immediately; 97.7% supported population screening, even though the diseases are incurable; 93.9% accepted the possibility of false positive and false negative results; 70.4% preferred a voluntary basis; 83.2% believed that the programme should be fully government funded as basic primary care; 98.8% agreed that Hong Kong should follow mainland China's policy on expanded newborn screening; 98.2% required pre-test counseling; and 96.4% required an explicit parental consent before blood sampling.

Conclusions: The response from parents overwhelmingly favoured having expanded newborn screening in Hong Kong. Parental tolerance was high. Parents valued the parental autonomy with informed consent and pre-test counseling the most. The success of any screening programme requires the public participation and this study is the first to prove the parental call for an expanded newborn screening in Hong Kong.

MeSH terms

  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Hong Kong
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Metabolism, Inborn Errors / diagnosis
  • Neonatal Screening / organization & administration*
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Qualitative Research