Journal of Genetic Counseling

, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp 97–119 | Cite as

Genetic Counseling and Screening of Consanguineous Couples and Their Offspring: Recommendations of the National Society of Genetic Counselors

  • Robin L. BennettEmail author
  • Arno G. Motulsky
  • Alan Bittles
  • Louanne Hudgins
  • Stefanie Uhrich
  • Debra Lochner Doyle
  • Kerry Silvey
  • C. Ronald Scott
  • Edith Cheng
  • Barbara McGillivray
  • Robert D. Steiner
  • Debra Olson


The objective of this document is to provide recommendations for genetic counseling and screening for consanguineous couples (related as second cousins or closer) and their offspring with the goals of

1. providing preconception reproductive options

2. improving pregnancy outcome and identifying reproductive choices

3. reducing morbidity and mortality in the 1st years of life, and

4. respecting psychosocial and multicultural issues.

The recommendations are the opinions of a multicenter working group (the Consanguinity Working Group (CWG)) with expertise in genetic counseling, medical genetics, biochemical genetics, genetic epidemiology, pediatrics, perinatology, and public health genetics, which was convened by the National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC). The consensus of the CWG and NSGC reviewers is that beyond a thorough medical family history with follow-up of significant findings, no additional preconception screening is recommended for consanguineous couples. Consanguineous couples should be offered similar genetic screening as suggested for any couple of their ethnic group. During pregnancy, consanguineous couples should be offered maternal–fetal serum marker screening and high-resolution fetal ultrasonography. Newborns should be screened for impaired hearing and detection of treatable inborn errors of metabolism. These recommendations should not be construed as dictating an exclusive course of management, nor does use of such recommendations guarantee a particular outcome. The professional judgment of a health care provider, familiar with the facts and circumstances of a specific case, will always supersede these recommendations.

consanguinity genetic counseling genetic screening genetic testing incest newborn screening tandem mass spectrometry 


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Copyright information

© National Society of Genetic Counselors, Inc. 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robin L. Bennett
    • 1
    Email author
  • Arno G. Motulsky
    • 1
  • Alan Bittles
    • 2
  • Louanne Hudgins
    • 3
  • Stefanie Uhrich
    • 4
  • Debra Lochner Doyle
    • 5
  • Kerry Silvey
    • 6
  • C. Ronald Scott
    • 1
    • 7
  • Edith Cheng
    • 1
  • Barbara McGillivray
    • 8
  • Robert D. Steiner
    • 9
  • Debra Olson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Medicine, Division of Medical GeneticsUniversity of WashingtonSeattle
  2. 2.Centre for Human GeneticsEdith Cowan UniversityPerth
  3. 3.Department of Pediatrics, Division of Medical GeneticsStanford UniversityStanford
  4. 4.Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Division of Medical GeneticsUniversity of WashingtonSeattle
  5. 5.Genetic Services Section, Washington State Department of HealthSeattle
  6. 6.Pacific Northwest Regional Genetics Group, Child Development and Rehabilitation CenterOregon Health Sciences UniversityEugene
  7. 7.Department of PediatricsUniversity of WashingtonSeattle
  8. 8.Department of Medical GeneticsChildren's and Women's Health Centre of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  9. 9.Departments of Pediatrics and Molecular and Medical Genetics, Child Development and Rehabilitation CenterDoernbecher Children's Hospital, Oregon Health & Science UniversityPortland

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