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Confidential inquiry into families with two siblings with cystic fibrosis
  1. P J MORRISON,
  2. F J STEWART,
  3. A C MAGEE,
  4. N C NEVIN
  1. Department of Medical Genetics
  2. Belfast City Hospital Trust
  3. Belfast BT9 7AB, UK

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    Editor,—Lane and colleagues’1confidential inquiry into families with two siblings with cystic fibrosis was essentially to determine whether couples with one child were offered prenatal diagnosis before a second pregnancy. There are several misconceptions with reference to the Northern Ireland population. The statement “clinicians and/or clinical geneticists did not offer prenatal diagnosis to a significant proportion of the couples . . . 56% of those in Northern Ireland”, does not reflect the actual situation. Since 1990 there has been a policy that when a child with cystic fibrosis is diagnosed, the paediatricians refer the family for genetic counselling. Most referrals are accepted and the genetic counselling session always includes information on prenatal diagnosis and appraisal of all possible reproductive options. When a couple embark on a further pregnancy, they can contact directly the regional genetics service responsible for coordinating the regional prenatal diagnostic clinics. These clinics, which are staffed by obstetricians and clinical geneticists, provide chorionic villus biopsy and early amniocentesis from 12 weeks’ gestation.2 All obstetricians are aware of these clinics in Northern Ireland.

    The statement that “the Abortion Act does not apply there and this may affect uptake of prenatal counselling” is incorrect. While the 1967 Abortion …

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