Utilization of genetic counseling by parents of a child or fetus with congenital malformation in North-East Italy



This article is corrected by:

  1. Errata: Corrigendum Volume 155, Issue 4, 942, Article first published online: 24 March 2011


Congenital malformations (CM) affect 2–3% of all births, the cause of which, when known, is genetic in 80–90% of cases. A genetic consultation (GC) is indicated for the parents of a child affected by a CM. This study analyzes the parental utilization of genetic counseling (GCU) and its possible influencing factors after termination of pregnancy (TOP) because of fetal anomalies or after the birth of a child affected by a major malformation. The study concerns cases in North-East Italy where there is a CM registry and a center-satellite system for genetic counseling. The results of this analysis are also compared to other similar studies, which address the same topic. Between 1981 and 2000, 1,235 out of 14,888 GC were performed because of the presence of a CM in a child/fetus. In the same period, 4,933 births and 1,112 TOPs were registered. The overall GCU was 19%, with significant differences according to malformative phenotype, severity of the malformative condition, type of birth, and viability. Genetic counseling was performed significantly sooner following TOP than after the birth of a malformed child. GCU showed an unequal distribution according to the parents' place of residence, suggesting that easy and equal access to the genetic service was probably not well provided for. Our results suggest that genetic services should be integrated with related services, and that the public and physicians need a greater awareness of these services. © 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.