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Genet Test. 2005 Fall;9(3):255-60.

Cystic fibrosis newborn screening: a pilot study to maximize carrier screening.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Division of Genetics, University of Rochester School of Medicine, Rochester, New York 14642, USA.


Newborn screening for cystic fibrosis (CF) is expanding because early diagnosis has been shown to result in improved nutrition and growth. Most newborns identified by a mutation panel have a single detected mutation and require sweat testing to exclude an additional undetected mutation. The resulting identification of CF carrier newborns, although not the primary purpose of screening, has three potential benefits, (1) the detection of trait-trait couples, (2) presymptomatic testing of these couples' previously born children who may have undetected CF, and (3) a carrier parent alerting his/her extended family members to the chance of also being a CF carrier. Reaping each benefit requires genetic counseling of parents and their accepting carrier testing. The purpose of this study was to utilize the sweat testing visit to educate parents about the value of carrier testing for themselves and their blood relatives. We compared special care (genetic counseling after explaining the sweat test result and offering of parental DNA testing, all on the sweat test visit) versus standard care (sweat test result reported by phone to the parents the next day by the newborn's physician, ideally with the recommendation to arrange genetic counseling and parental carrier testing). In the first year of New York State CF screening, 64 newborns with one detected mutation were reported in the nine-county region that includes Rochester. Of these, parents of 39 agreed to participate in the study and to be randomized to special or standard care. Sixty-one parents completed both the initial and 1-year follow-up questionnaires (30 couples and one mother). Of the 61 parents, 23 had carrier testing after the birth of the baby. The frequency of such parental testing was significantly higher in the special care group (17/34 or 50%) than in the standard care group (6/27 or 22%) (p < 0.05). This is the first evidence from a randomized trial that genetic counseling and offering carrier testing to parents on the sweat test visit increases identification of carrier parents. Such identification detects trait-trait parents and facilitates carrier testing among relatives.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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