Parental interest in genomic sequencing of newborns: enrollment experience from the BabySeq Project

Genet Med. 2019 Mar;21(3):622-630. doi: 10.1038/s41436-018-0105-6. Epub 2018 Sep 13.


Purpose: Newborn genomic sequencing (nGS) has great potential to improve pediatric care. Parental interest and concerns about genomics are relatively unexplored. Understanding why parents decline research consent for nGS may reveal implementation barriers.

Methods: We evaluated parental interest in a randomized trial of nGS in well-baby and intensive care unit nursery settings. Interested families attended an informational enrollment session (ES) with a genetic counselor prior to consenting. Reason(s) for declining participation and sociodemographic associations were analyzed.

Results: Of 3860 eligible approached families, 10% attended ES, 67% of whom enrolled. Of 1760 families queried for decline reasons, 58% were uninterested in research. Among 499 families considering research, principal reasons for decline prior to ES included burdensome study logistics (48%), feeling overwhelmed postpartum (17%), and lack of interest/discomfort with genetic testing (17%). Decliners after ES more often cited concerns about privacy/insurability (41%) and uncertain/unfavorable results (23%).

Conclusion: Low interest in research and study logistics were major initial barriers to postpartum enrollment and are likely generic to many postpartum research efforts. Concerns over privacy and result implications were most commonly cited in decliners after ES. Understanding parental concerns around research nGS may inform future integration of nGS into newborn screening, predictive testing, and pediatric diagnostics.

Keywords: Consent for genomic testing; Genomic sequencing; Newborn; Newborn screening; Parental concerns.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health
  • Female
  • Genetic Testing / ethics
  • Genetic Testing / methods
  • Genetic Testing / trends
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Informed Consent
  • Male
  • Neonatal Screening / ethics
  • Neonatal Screening / methods
  • Neonatal Screening / psychology*
  • Neonatal Screening / trends*
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Patient Selection / ethics
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA