Social Aspects of First Trimester Diagnosis
By necessity, the approach in this paper is the pragmatic one of the practising clinician aiming to bring out some of the social and ethical problems of fetal diagnosis as they present themselves to the patient and the doctor. The topic falls naturally into five parts. Firstly, a summary is presented of the relative frequency of the different types of serious congenital disorders, the time in life at which people acquire a risk of passing on a congenital disorder to their children, the nature of the risk, and the possible choices open to people at risk. Secondly, the evidence available about the choices that people actually make and the reasons why is briefly reviewed. Thirdly, the special features of the clinical relationship to the couple (or mother) at risk is contrasted with the general pattern of medical consultations, and its implications in terms of the distribution of responsibilities between the doctor and the couple is described. Fourthly, the way in which earlier fetal diagnosis alters the existing balance of choice and responsibility, extends the global scope of fetal diagnosis, and raises new questions is discussed. The final section touches on the issue of ultimate, realistic objectives of fetal diagnosis.
KeywordsEurope Dition Appendicitis Phenylketonuria Pregnan
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