Background: Since the early 2010s genomics-based non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) based on a blood sample from the mother is offered to expecting parents who have a risk for certain genetic anomalies such as Down syndrome. Compared to invasive prenatal testing-methods (e.g. amniocentesis), NIPT does not pose a risk of physical damage to either the mother or the unborn child. Only positive test results, i.e. that indicate a genetic anomaly, must then be confirmed with invasive methods because there is a small risk of false positive results. The possibility of NIPT might facilitate the decision for parents without elevated risk to use such testing. Testing the fetus for genetic anomalies and the possible decision for or against a having a child with a genetic anomaly can cause stress or anxiety and affect parents’ lives for years.
Objectives: To map the existing evidence on the psychosocial consequences of using NIPT to screen for Down syndrome and other aneuploidies that can currently be tested for non-invasively.
Methods: To map the existing evidence, we will develop comprehensive search strategies for the electronic databases MEDLINE, Web of Science, Cochrane Library, CINAHL, PSYNDEX and PsycINFO. Additionally, we will search the internet via Google and Google Scholar for further evidence. The results of the literature search will be charted regarding bibliographic and methodological details. For example, data on study design or type of outcomes will be evaluated in order to assess the quality of the study and its reporting. If applicable, data on psychosocial outcomes will be extracted and mapped in a user-friendly table or database. We will publish our evidence map in an open access journal, so that our results will be freely available.
Results: In a preliminary search, we identified several studies that reported psychological, social, or physical consequences of NIPT. Data abstraction, and analysis of findings is pending.
Conclusions: Not yet applicable.
Patient or healthcare consumer involvement: Mapping studies that analyzed such consequences and thereby identifying research gaps is one step towards enabling parents to make fully informed decisions for or against NIPT.