Cystic fibrosis heterozygote screening in 5,161 pregnant women

Am J Hum Genet. 1996 Apr;58(4):823-35.


A screening program for cystic fibrosis (CF) heterozygotes was conducted in a large HMO prenatal population, to evaluate the level of interest among eligible patients, the effectiveness of prescreening education, attitudes toward the screening process, psychological effects, and utilization of prenatal diagnosis and its outcomes. The heterozygote identification rate and frequency of specific CFTR mutations were also assessed. Identified carriers were offered genetic counseling and testing of male partners. Prenatal diagnosis was offered if both parents were identified as carriers. A total of 5,161 women underwent carrier testing; 947 others completed survey instruments only. The acceptance rate of screening was high (78%), and pretest education by videotape was generally effective. Adverse psychological effects were not reported. Participants generally found screening to be desirable and useful. Screening identified 142 female heterozygotes, 109 couples in which the male partner was not a carrier, and 7 high-risk couples. The incidence of R117H mutations was much higher than expected. The number of identified carriers was much lower in Hispanics than in Caucasians. We conclude that large-scale prenatal screening for CF heterozygotes in the absence of a family history of CF is an acceptable method for identifying couples at risk for affected fetuses. Sufficient pretest education can be accomplished efficiently, test insensitivity is well accepted, adverse psychological events are not observed, and general patient satisfaction is high.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child, Preschool
  • Comprehension
  • Cystic Fibrosis / diagnosis
  • Cystic Fibrosis / ethnology
  • Cystic Fibrosis / genetics*
  • Female
  • Genetic Carrier Screening*
  • Genetic Testing* / psychology
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mutation
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy, High-Risk
  • Pregnant Women*
  • Prenatal Diagnosis
  • Surveys and Questionnaires