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Am J Med Genet. 1997 Mar 3;69(1):23-8.

Counselling following diagnosis of a fetal abnormality: comparison of different clinical specialists in Mexico.

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Instituto Nacional de PediatrĂ­a, Mexico City, Mexico.


Most geneticists agree that counselling should be nondirective, and studies report that genetic counselling by geneticists is performed largely in a neutral style. However, couples at risk of having a child with a genetic condition may seek the advice of other physicians. The purpose of the present study was to describe the answers of four groups of specialists from Mexico City (internists, pediatricians, obstetricians, and neurologists) regarding how they would counsel a couple when prenatal diagnosis has shown that a fetus is affected by one of 17 different genetic disorders and to analyze the role of several variables in the development of their opinion. Our results show that physicians in these specialties are more likely to counsel directively than neutrally. Other variables did not influence the directiveness. With respect to direction of influence, internists, pediatricians, and neurologists are more likely to counsel terminating affected pregnancies than are obstetricians (P = 0.0002). Similarly, clinicians older than 37 years of age and those reporting that religion is not important to them counsel terminating affected pregnancies (P = 0.005 and P = 0.003, respectively). Physicians' gender and clinical experience with genetic diseases did not show statistically significant differences. Strong consensus among specialists was reached only on terminating pregnancies in anencephaly. A lowered and moderate consensus (51-75% agreement) was reached on continuing pregnancies with cleft lip and plate. A moderate measure of consensus for nondirective counselling was found among obstetricians regarding 14 of the 17 diseases in the study, whereas neurologists expressed a moderate measure of consensus on counselling the termination of pregnancies when the fetus was affected by neurological disorders. Hence, the approach to counselling was related in part to the fetal condition and in part to the clinician's specialty and age and the self-reported importance of religion. The data presented herein may not be representative of all Mexican physicians within the selected specialties; however, it is important to gather their opinions because they are involved in the care and treatment of genetic diseases and may have an important influence on the demand and availability of prenatal diagnosis and abortion.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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