European Journal of Pediatrics

, Volume 178, Issue 6, pp 803–809 | Cite as

Parents’ experience with positive newborn screening results for cystic fibrosis

  • Inken BrockowEmail author
  • Uta Nennstiel
Original Article


In Germany, screening for cystic fibrosis (CF) is part of the newborn screening since September 2016. The risk of psychological harm due to false-positive screening results is a longstanding concern. We investigated the parents’ perception of the CF screening process in Bavaria and the communication after positive screening results with a questionnaire. Until August 2018, 192 children went through a final diagnostic testing after a positive CF screening result, and 105 (54.7%) families completed the questionnaire. Of these, only 30 parents obtained information about the newborn screening by a physician, despite this being mandatory in Germany. Parents being informed by a CF specialist (28.6%) about the positive screening result were more satisfied with the given information (80.0 versus 50% informed by the maternity ward), and the delay until the final diagnostic testing was shorter. More than 3 days between the information about the screening result and the diagnostic testing was too long for 77.7% of the families.

Conclusion: Performing final diagnostic testing with only short delays and receiving satisfactory information is important. Therefore, parents should be informed directly by a CF center about positive screening results and only when sweat testing is possible within the next days.

What is Known:

The risk of psychological harm due to false-positive screening results is a longstanding concern.

Satisfactory information about the positive CF screening result seem to reduce the parental stress.

What is New:

• Parents being informed directly by a CF specialist were more satisfied with the given information and the delay until the final diagnostic testing was shorter.

• Our data support the concept that parents should better be informed directly by a CF specialist about positive screening results and only when sweat testing is possible within the next days to reduce parental stress.


Cystic fibrosis Positive screening results Newborn screening Parental stress 



Cystic fibrosis


CF screening positive, inconclusive diagnosis


Cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator gene


Immunoreactive trypsinogen


Bavarian Health and Food safety authority


Newborn screening


Pancreatitis-associated protein


Positive predictive value



The authors would like to thank the Swiss cystic fibrosis screening group for providing the questionnaire, the Bavarian screening team and the CF centers for their support, and the families for their participation.

Authors’ contributions

Both authors made substantial contributions to conception and design, acquisition, analysis and interpretation of data, drafted the article, and reviewed it critically for important intellectual content and have given final approval of the version.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Supplementary material

431_2019_3343_MOESM1_ESM.docx (1.1 mb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 1159 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Screening Center, Bavarian Health and Food Safety Authority (LGL)OberschleissheimGermany

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