Informed consent for expanded carrier screening: Past, present, and future

Informed consent for expanded carrier screening: Past, present, and future
Britton D. Rink
Prenatal Diagnosis, 13 January 2023
History, law, bioethics, and geocultural influences all have impacted the modern application of informed consent. It is a complex, multilayered process to communicate information and obtain voluntary patient permission before a health care intervention. Lack of provider education about genetic disorders, complexities of advanced genomic technologies, limited time during patient encounters, and low health literacy within a population all represent challenges to effective communication. There is no consensus on how informed consent in reproductive genetics is optimally obtained. Expanded carrier screening (ECS) is purposed to simultaneously test for a large list of diseases in a pan-ethnic manner. The increased use of ECS is driven by advances in genomic technologies, decreased cost, an improved understanding of single gene disorders, and in support of reproductive autonomy. Academic organizations recommend pretest counseling when patients consider ECS, yet best practice is not established. Ongoing research is needed to determine how optimally implement informed consent given the increased complexity of ECS.

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