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New online tool to support expectant parents with prenatal testing decisions

A new online tool has been launched to support expectant parents in their choices around prenatal testing for chromosome conditions in their unborn baby.

It’s YourChoice, created by the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and James Cook University, aims to guide pregnant women through the prenatal testing options and which tests may be best suited for them.

Screening and diagnostic tests are available to all pregnant women to test for chromosome conditions such as Down Syndrome. Chromosome conditions are common and are caused by changes to the number or structure of chromosomes (the packages of DNA in our cells).

The interactive website features a 15-minute decision aid that guides the user through a series of questions and suggests a preferred testing pathway based on their answers. The results can then be saved to discuss later with a health professional.

Murdoch Children’s Professor Jane Halliday said the website was designed to ensure women and their partners could have informed discussions with their maternity care provider.

“Prenatal screening tests provide information to pregnant women about the health of their unborn baby and the chance of chromosome conditions,” she said. “Our decision aid asks women about their values and preferences and provides them with suggested options to discuss with a health professional.”

“There are many different prenatal tests available now, which makes it hard for people to navigate the system. We hope this tool will help women make informed decisions about whether or not to have testing and to understand the range of tests available to them.”

James Cook University Professor Cate Nagle said the decision aid was not a stand-alone tool and worked alongside clinical support.

“It’s not meant to take the place of the doctor or midwife,” she said. “Pregnancy visits can be quick and don’t always allow for in-depth discussions around screening options, which are quite complex to understand.”

“The website provides a summary as well as extra information and resources so every woman can find what she’s looking for at her fingertips.”

Victorian Clinical Genetics Services Reproductive Genetic Counseling Group Leader Dr. Alison Archibald said early pregnancy could be a complex time for pregnant people and their partners.

“With a range of genetic screening and testing options available in early pregnancy, deciding whether to have screening and what test to choose can be tricky,” she said.

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