Genetic counseling and reproductive uncertainty



Of 836 fertile women seeking genetic counseling, 544 (65%) reported that their major reason for doing so was to obtain information to help in deciding if they should have a child. Thirty-four percent of these 836 women entered counseling uncertain about undertaking a pregnancy in the next 2 years. After counseling, 28% of the 836 had uncertain pregnancy intentions. These included 66% of those who were uncertain and 11 % of those who were reproductively certain before counseling. Stepwise logistic regression identified the following as independently and significantly associated with reproductive uncertainty after counseling: 1) uncertainty before counseling; 2) uncertainty about ideal family size; 3) concern about the effects of an affected child on the client's social life; 4) perceived serious problems caring for a child with a birth defect now living at home; and 5) new concerns raised in counseling. Reproductive uncertainty after counseling was not related to characteristics of the risked birth defect, level of risk, treatment potential, or client learning of medical and genetic facts. These data suggest that genetic counseling will not eliminate reproductive uncertainty for many clients, because this uncertainty is related to factors mainly outside the usual scope of counseling.