Education And Debate

Fortnightly Review: Neonatal screening for sickle cell disorders: what about the carrier infants?

BMJ 1996; 313 doi: (Published 17 August 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;313:407
  1. Linda Laird, senior registrar in public health medicinea,
  2. Carol Dezateux, senior lecturer in paediatric epidemiologya,
  3. Elizabeth N Anionwu, senior lecturer in community genetic counsellingb
  1. aDepartment of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Institute of Child Health, London WC1N 1EH
  2. bDepartment of Clinical Genetics and Fetal Medicine, Institute of Child Health
  1. Correspondence to: Carol Dezateux.
  • Accepted 16 May 1996


Summary points

  • Neonatal screening for sickle cell disorders detects between 17 and 100 carrier infants for each child detected as having sickle cell disorder

  • Information on neonatal carrier status is an unavoidable outcome of the neonatal screening process

  • Withholding information from parents is not justified

  • Further research is needed to evaluate the benefits and risks of this information and the effectiveness of different policies for follow up

  • This is relevant to future developments in molecular genetics, which may place health


  • Funding LL was seconded to the Institute of Child Health by the North Thames Regional Health Authority; CD is supported by the Wellcome Trust; ENA was supported by a grant from the Department of Health.

  • Conflict of interest None.

  • Accepted 16 May 1996
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