Newborn screening for Pompe disease: impact on families
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Pompe disease (PD) is an autosomal recessive lysosomal storage disorder causing progressive glycogen accumulation in muscles, with variability in age of onset and severity. For infantile-onset PD (IOPD), initiation of early treatment can be life-saving; however, current newborn screening (NBS) technology cannot distinguish IOPD from late-onset PD (LOPD) without clinical workup. Therefore, families of LOPD infants diagnosed by NBS may now spend years or even decades aware of their illness before symptoms appear, creating a pre-symptomatic awareness phase with which the medical community has little experience. The present study examines the effects of receiving a positive NBS result for PD on families. In-depth qualitative interviews were conducted with mothers of nine children (three IOPD and six LOPD) diagnosed via NBS, exploring their experiences, understanding of PD, how they are coping, and what impact diagnosis is having on family life. Interviews were coded using MaxQDA v.12 and analyzed for thematic trends. While overall opinion of NBS was favorable, it is clear many of the concerns anticipated by HCPs, patients, and families regarding NBS for late-onset LSDs are being realized to varying degrees; LOPD families are becoming patients-in-waiting. Increased fear/anxiety and living with uncertainty (regarding diagnosis, their children’s future, and when to start treatment) were predominant themes, with all families voicing considerable emotional reactions and varied social and healthcare support concerns. Coping strategies and psychosocial challenges are interpreted using Rolland & Williams’ Family Systems Genetic Illness model. Recommendations for improvement in delivery of service, as well as families’ advice for future parents and HCPs, are discussed.
The authors would like to thank all the parents who took the time to speak with us about their lives and experiences with PD.
No funding was received for this study.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflicts of interest
Brianna Pruniski, M.MSc. has no conflicts of interest. She wrote the first draft of the manuscript.
Emily Lisi, M.S. has received research support from Sanofi Genzyme, Shire, Pfizer, and BioMarin and lecturers’ honoraria from Sanofi Genzyme. These activities are monitored and in compliance with the Emory University conflict of interest policies. However, no research support was received for this study.
Nadia Ali, Ph.D., has received research support from Sanofi Genzyme, Shire, BioMarin, Amicus, and Pfizer, as well as lecturers’ honoraria from Sanofi Genzyme, BioMarin, and Amicus. These activities are monitored and in compliance with the Emory University conflict of interest policies. However, no research support was received for this study.
All procedures followed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation (institutional and national) and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 2000 (5). Informed consent was obtained from all patients for being included in the study.
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