Aim To ascertain women's perception and knowledge of antenatal screening and diagnosis of fetal anomaly.
Methods Prospective survey over a period of 4 weeks. Sample size 257.
Results 87% women said they had previous knowledge of screening tests available during pregnancy, however over 56% confessed to limited knowledge and 26% said they ‘did not know much’.
83% found the verbal and written information ‘very useful’ but 5.4% felt it was ‘neither helpful nor unhelpful’. 89% women said the information helped them reach a decision about screening. Although 91% women correctly thought the uptake of the screening programme was voluntary, surprisingly 9% women thought these tests were mandatory. 39% women had desired to find out the risk of Down's syndrome at the start of pregnancy and 61% finally opted to have screening after counselling suggesting the discussion had influenced their decision.
Although 61% women consented to have screening for down's syndrome, only 19% thought they would proceed with an invasive diagnostic test if found to be high risk with 28% women categorically refusing amniocentesis and 53% ‘unsure’.
57% women stated the risk of spontaneous abortion with amniocentesis correctly and only 15% with CVS.
55% women thought they would continue with a Down's syndrome pregnancy if found to have one, 42% were unsure and 3% would have opted not to continue.
Conclusion Effective antenatal counselling is a key tool in ensuring informed consent for screening and diagnosis of fetal anomaly and NHS trusts need to have methods in place to ascertain this.
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