Journal of Genetic Counseling

, Volume 19, Issue 2, pp 199–210 | Cite as

Long-term Evaluation of Genetic Counseling Following False-Positive Newborn Screen for Cystic Fibrosis

  • Laura Cavanagh
  • Cecilia J. Compton
  • Audrey TluczekEmail author
  • Roger L. Brown
  • Philip M. Farrell
Original Research


This cross-sectional mixed method study was a long-term follow-up evaluation of families who participated in an earlier survey of their understanding of cystic fibrosis (CF) genetics and their infants’ false-positive CF newborn screening (NBS) results. Thirty-seven of the original 138 parents participated in the follow-up telephone survey. Results showed parents who received genetic counseling at the time of their infants’ diagnostic sweat tests had significantly higher long-term retention of genetic knowledge than those without genetic counseling. However, both groups still had misconceptions and lacked accurate information about the actual risk associated with being a CF carrier. Most parents either had already informed (65%) or planned to inform (19%) their children about the child’s carrier status. Mean child age at the time of disclosure was 9.2 years. Situational prompts were the most common reasons for informing their children. Neither parental knowledge, medical literacy, nor parental education predicted whether parents informed their children about their carrier status. False-positive NBS results for CF were not associated with parental perceptions of child vulnerability 11–14 years after the testing. Although the sample from this study was small, these findings underscore the benefits of genetic counseling at the time of the diagnostic sweat test and offer information that can assist parents in talking with their children about the implications of having one CFTR mutation.


Cystic fibrosis False-positive Genetic counseling Newborn screening Psychosocial 



We thank the families who participated in this study, Michael Farrell, MD for his assistance with the literacy measure and Peggy Modaff, MS, Richard Pauli, MD, Catherine Reiser, MS, and David Wargowski, MD for sharing their wisdom regarding this manuscript. This project was supported by funding from NIH grant #DK34108 and #HG004252 and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.


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Copyright information

© National Society of Genetic Counselors, Inc. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laura Cavanagh
    • 1
  • Cecilia J. Compton
    • 2
  • Audrey Tluczek
    • 3
    • 4
    Email author
  • Roger L. Brown
    • 3
    • 4
  • Philip M. Farrell
    • 4
  1. 1.Genetics CenterOrangeUSA
  2. 2.LondonUK
  3. 3.University of Wisconsin School of NursingMadisonUSA
  4. 4.University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public HealthMadisonUSA

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