Routinization of prenatal screening with the non-invasive prenatal test: pregnant women’s perspectives

KRM van der Meij, Annabel Njio, Linda Martin, JT Gitsels-van der Wal, Mireille N. Bekker, Elsbeth H. van Vliet-Lachotzki, A Kater-Kuipers, DRM Timmermans, EA Sistermans, Robert-Jan H. Galjaard, L Henneman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Due to the favorable test characteristics of the non-invasive prenatal test (NIPT) in the screening of fetal aneuploidy, there has been a strong and growing demand for implementation. In the Netherlands, NIPT is offered within a governmentally supported screening program as a first-tier screening test for all pregnant women (TRIDENT-2 study). However, concerns have been raised that the test’s favorable characteristics might lead to uncritical use, also referred to as routinization. This study addresses women’s perspectives on prenatal screening with NIPT by evaluating three aspects related to routinization: informed choice, freedom to choose and (personal and societal) perspectives on Down syndrome. Nationwide, a questionnaire was completed by 751 pregnant women after receiving counseling for prenatal screening. Of the respondents, the majority (75.5%) made an informed choice for prenatal screening as measured by the multidimensional measure of informed choice (MMIC). Education level and religious affiliation were significant predictors of informed choice. The main reason to accept screening was “seeking reassurance” (25.5%), and the main reason to decline was “every child is welcome” (30.6%). The majority of respondents (87.7%) did not perceive societal pressure to test. Differences between test-acceptors and test-decliners in personal and societal perspectives on Down syndrome were found. Our study revealed high rates of informed decision-making and perceived freedom to choose regarding fetal aneuploidy screening, suggesting that there is little reason for concern about routinization of NIPT based on the perspectives of Dutch pregnant women. Our findings highlight the importance of responsible implementation of NIPT within a national screening program.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Human Genetics
Early online date2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2021

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