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Keywords:

  • nuchal translucency;
  • pregnancy;
  • prenatal diagnosis;
  • prenatal screening tests;
  • triple test

Aims and objectives

To determine awareness, use and attitudes of Turkish women towards prenatal screening tests (PST) for Down syndrome (DS).

Background

The technology of screening and diagnosing congenital diseases and abnormalities of foetuses has rapidly developed in the past few decades and prenatal screening for DS in early pregnancy is a valued component representing a cost-effective public health intervention in modern developed countries.

Design

Cross-sectional and descriptive study.

Methods

The study was carried out in 518 women in the early postpartum period at the Maternity and Children's Hospital between 1 September 2010 and 1 March 2011 using a questionnaire developed by the researchers.

Results

Awareness about the first- and second-trimester PST [nuchal translucency (NT), triple test] was 21·6 and 59·7%, whereas use of them was 13·7 and 44·8%, respectively. Women who had lower education, were unemployed, had a patriarchal family type, had a low income status, were unmarried, had consanguineous marriage and did not have a private doctor were less aware and had less use of NT and/or triple test. Women who did not have a genetic disease in their family, were multiparous, had an unplanned pregnancy and did not receive antenatal care were less aware and had less use of the triple test. In case, the foetus was diagnosed as DS, women made the following decisions: continuing the pregnancy, terminating the pregnancy, leaving the decision to the doctor and being not sure 34·9, 12·0, 29·9 and 23·2%, respectively.

Conclusion

Women's knowledge about and attitudes towards PST are important. This study shows that Turkish women have limited knowledge about and use of PST. Therefore, health professionals play a significant role in improving patients’ information about PST. They should dedicate more time to discussions with women, provide appropriate and understandable information tailored to women's socio-economical level and should emphasise the indications, purposes and limitations of PST.

Relevance to clinical practice

Discovering women's opinions and knowledge about PST will help healthcare providers determine their information needs.