Prenatal screening for Down syndrome: a survey of health care professionals’ opinions and practice
Background: Down Syndrome (DS) is a common genetic disorder that is associated with high intrauterine lethality. Morbidity for the survivors includes congenital anomalies and Intellectual Disability (ID). Genetic screening for DS is an ever evolving field with remarkable progress made over the years. Health care workers remain the main source of information to patients on DS screening. In the absence of a national policy on screening, there is bound to be disparity in practice both at individual and institutional levels.
Objective: To assess the opinions and practice on DS screening amongst health care professionals attending the 2012 annual Kenya Obstetrical and Gynaecological Society (KOGS) Coast symposium held on 27-28th October 2012.
Methods: A semi structured questionnaire was administered to the study participants during a plenary session of the conference. Different questions assessing opinion and practice of antenatal screening for DS were then summarized by health worker designation through percentages and comparisons assessed.Qualitative analysis was done by coding and tabulating the emerging themes of concern
Results: There was a response rate of 47% amongst the symposium participants. Eighty eight percent indicated that DS screening should be part of routine antenatal care, though the service is offered only rarely by a majority. Knowledge of the various DS screening and diagnostic tests was generally low. Reasons given for not offering DS screening included lack of facilities, low awareness and training amongst health care workers and the high costs involved.
Conclusion: Whereas a majority of the study participants were of the view that DS screening should be routinely offered, this is only rarely done. Intended programmes and protocols for prenatal screening for DS should take into consideration the concerns highlighted by the study. There is also need for continuedprofessional training on DS screening.
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