A secondary benefit: the reproductive impact of carrier results from newborn screening for cystic fibrosis

Genet Med. 2017 Apr;19(4):403-411. doi: 10.1038/gim.2016.125. Epub 2016 Sep 8.


Purpose: Newborn screening (NBS) for cystic fibrosis (CF) can identify carriers, which is considered a benefit that enables reproductive planning. We examined the reproductive impact of carrier result disclosure of NBS for CF.

Methods: We surveyed mothers of carrier infants after NBS (Time 1) and 1 year later (Time 2) to ascertain intended and reported communication of their infants' carrier results to relatives, carrier testing for themselves/other children, and reproductive decisions. A sub-sample of mothers was also interviewed at Time 1 and Time 2.

Results: The response rate was 54%. A little more than half (55%) of mothers underwent carrier testing at Time 1; another 40% of those who intended to undergo testing at Time 1 underwent testing at Time 2. Carrier result communication to relatives was high (92%), but a majority of participants did not expect the results to influence family planning (65%). All interviewed mothers valued learning their infants' carrier results. Some underwent carrier testing and then shared results with family. Others did not use the results or used them in unintended ways.

Conclusion: Although mothers valued learning carrier results from NBS, they reported moderate uptake of carrier testing and limited influence on family planning. Our study highlights the secondary nature of the benefit of disclosing carrier results of NBS.Genet Med 19 4, 403-411.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cystic Fibrosis / diagnosis*
  • Cystic Fibrosis / genetics
  • Disclosure
  • Female
  • Genetic Carrier Screening / methods*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Neonatal Screening / methods*
  • Neonatal Screening / psychology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Reproduction*