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Am J Hum Genet. 2000 Dec;67(6):1621-5. Epub 2000 Nov 2.

Parental attitudes toward genetic testing for pediatric deafness.

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Department of Genetics, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, University Hospitals of Cleveland, Cleveland, OH, USA.


Recent molecular genetic advances have resulted in genetic testing becoming an option for deaf individuals and their families. However, there is little information about the interest in such testing. To investigate this issue, parents with normal hearing who have one or more deaf children were surveyed about their attitudes toward diagnostic, carrier, and prenatal genetic testing for deafness. This population was chosen because it represents the majority of individuals who are encountered in clinical practice, given that 90%-95% of deaf individuals are born to persons with normal hearing. Of 328 surveys distributed, 96 were completed and returned. Of the respondents, 96% recorded a positive attitude toward genetic testing for deafness, including prenatal testing, although none would use this information to terminate an affected pregnancy. All respondents had a poor understanding of genetics, with 98% both incorrectly estimating the recurrence risk of deafness and misunderstanding the concept of inheritance. Notably, these findings were similar in the group who had had genetic testing for their children and in the group who had not, suggesting either that the parents who received genetic testing did not receive genetic counseling or that the counseling was not effective. On the basis of these results, it was concluded that this population is interested in the use of genetic testing and that testing should not be done without first providing formal genetic counseling. Appropriate counseling can help parents to understand the risks, benefits, and limitations of genetic testing.

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