Journal of Genetic Counseling

, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 53–72 | Cite as

Parents' Experiences with Genetic Counseling After the Birth of a Baby with a Genetic Disorder: An Exploratory Study

  • Veronica Collins
  • Jane Halliday
  • Stephen Kahler
  • Robert Williamson


Little is known about factors determining which families utilize genetic counseling services. We conducted semistructured interviews with parents of four children born with cystic fibrosis (CF) and ten with Down's syndrome (DS) to ascertain reasons for using, or not using, genetic counseling services in the state of Victoria, Australia. We also explored the usefulness of genetic counseling for the families who had experienced it, and the perceived role of genetic counseling. All mothers of children with CF see a genetic counselor as part of a structured education program following diagnosis through newborn screening. Information overload was identified by them as an important problem. There is no specific program for families of children with DS. Six of them had received genetic counseling and four had not, either because it was not specifically offered to them or because they did not pursue it in the context of misconceptions about its purpose. The timing of the offer of genetic counseling is important and needs to take into account parents' coping strategies after diagnosis. Several parents commented on the favorable aspects of counseling, including getting information they needed to deal with the diagnosis and relief of guilt. Better awareness of genetic counseling by referring physicians, and providing counseling at more than one visit, may contribute to a more effective service.

genetic counseling genetic services Down's syndrome cystic fibrosis birth defects 


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Copyright information

© National Society of Genetic Counselors, Inc. 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Veronica Collins
    • 1
  • Jane Halliday
    • 1
  • Stephen Kahler
    • 1
  • Robert Williamson
    • 1
  1. 1.The Murdoch Childrens Research InstituteParkvilleAustralia

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