"Did you find that out in time?": New life trajectories of parents who choose to continue a pregnancy where a genetic disorder is diagnosed or likely

Chriselle L. Hickerton, MaryAnne Aitken, Jan Hodgson, Martin B. Delatycki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


The availability of tests to detect genetic conditions prenatally has expanded considerably in recent decades. These advances allow women and couples choices; the choice of whether or not to undergo prenatal screening or diagnosis and therefore the choice whether to continue or terminate a pregnancy. Following prenatal testing many people choose to terminate an affected pregnancy, however little is known about the experiences of parents who choose to continue such a pregnancy. This exploratory qualitative study involved in-depth interviews with five mothers and four fathers who experienced a pregnancy where a genetic diagnosis was, or could have been, detected prenatally. Transcripts of the interviews were analyzed using thematic analysis. While the participants' experiences of genetic diagnoses and prenatal choices varied, findings revealed three major categories triggering new life trajectories for all of these parents: knowledge of reproductive risk and receiving a genetic diagnosis; adapting to diagnosis and new life path; and attitudes to prenatal diagnosis and disability. Parents reported that while dealing with their own attitudes and getting on with their "new world," positive and negative attitudes of others impacted on these parents' experiences. A conceptual model arising from the major themes is offered as a way of thinking about this paradigm. Parents who continue a pregnancy where a genetic condition is detected or suspected prenatally, can be supported appropriately by health professionals while adjusting to their new life path.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)373-383
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Journal of Medical Genetics Part A
Volume158 A
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Attitudes
  • Continuing pregnancy
  • Disability
  • Genetic diagnosis
  • Parents
  • Prenatal diagnosis
  • Qualitative research
  • Trajectory

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