Factors influencing the reproductive decision after genetic counseling

Am J Med Genet. 1990 Apr;35(4):496-502. doi: 10.1002/ajmg.1320350411.


Here we report a follow-up study involving interviews with 164 couples 2-3 years after genetic counseling to assess the influence of various factors on their reproductive planning. The results show that the desire to have children and the absence of personal experience with the disorder (no close relative being affected) are important single factors for the decision to opt for having children after genetic counseling. The magnitude of the genetic risk is of relative importance in reproductive planning. Seventy percent of the couples with a high genetic risk (greater than 15%) opted for having children. When the disorder was perceived as severe and the risk was interpreted as high, 72% opted for having children. The availability of prenatal diagnosis became important only in combination with a high genetic risk (greater than 15%). Forty-seven percent of the couples with a high genetic risk refrained from having children when prenatal diagnosis was not available. In the absence of prenatal diagnosis, couples who had an affected child were more cautious about trying again than those who did not--50% versus 14% decided to abstain. This study has provided some insight into the complexity of reproductive decision-making after genetic counseling. The findings may help genetic counselors and clinical geneticists understand and support counselees in their decision-making process, which is "multi-factorial."

MeSH terms

  • Chromosome Aberrations
  • Chromosome Disorders
  • Family Planning Services*
  • Female
  • Genetic Counseling*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Netherlands
  • Psychology
  • Risk
  • Risk Factors