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Psychological consequences for parents of false negative results on prenatal screening for Down's syndrome: retrospective interview study

BMJ 2000; 320 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.320.7232.407 (Published 12 February 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;320:407

Down's screening

EDITOR-With reference to Hall, Bobrow and Marteau's paper on Down's
syndrome screening, I wonder whether they have considered the flip side of
the coin? 1
Serum screening for Down's syndrome is not 100% specific and thus there
will always be false positive results, the number varying depending on the
cut off point used by each antenatal unit. As approximately 1 in 200
amniocenteses result in a miscarriage there will be a significant number
of women loosing normal pregnancies in mid-trimester as a result of
screening.

I was one such unlucky statistic, finally miscarrying a normal female
foetus three weeks after my amniocentesis. The whole event was certainly
psychologically devastating despite us attributing no blame to the
consultant involved and it took us a while to recover as a family.
It has made me more sceptical about all types of screening tests although
I am careful not to be biased when counselling women in general practice
regarding antenatal screening. However I am also very aware that despite
being told of the risk of mid-trimester miscarriage, a woman never really
believes it will happen, until it does.

Jenny Gowans
general practitioner

Alcester

1 Hall S, Bobrow M, Marteau T.M. Psychological consequences for
parents of false negative results on prenatal screening for Down's
syndrome: retrospective interview study. BMJ 2000;320:407-412.(12
February)

Competing interests: No competing interests

02 March 2000
Jenny Gowans
GP
Alcester