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Does Carrier Screening Decrease CF Births?

By January 24, 2010

Last month, the Journal of American Medicine published the report of a study in Italy that showed when couples were offered carrier screening for cystic fibrosis (CF), the number of babies born with CF decreased. When I first read the report, I thought "Well, that's a no-brainer". After all, couples who know they are carriers they will probably choose not to have children, right?

But then I thought about it for a while and realized that it really isn't that cut and dry. The more I think about it, the more I wonder how big a role CF carrier screening plays in a couple's decision of whether or not to have kids. What's more, I wonder how much of a role it should have.

Now I'm all for offering carrier screening, don't get me wrong. It provides useful information and allows couples to be prepared for the possibility that their children will have CF. I'm just saying that it may not be enough information to warrant a couple's decision not to have children. When both parents are carriers, their child has a 25% chance of having CF. That's a 75% chance that the child won't have CF. Even if the child does have CF he may live a long, happy productive life as many with CF do these days. What do you think? Does carrier screening decrease the number of kids born with CF? If you and your partner tested positive as carriers, would it affect your decisions about having kids?

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