Prenatal screening put to the test this Disability Action Week

Friday, November 25, 2022

The importance of supporting families through the prenatal screening process is our focus for Disability Action Week, which kicks off tomorrow.

Pregnancy is one of the biggest life journeys people go through and as healthcare professionals we play an integral role in providing prospective parents with accurate information about prenatal screening.

However, research indicates that many parents are not making informed decisions when it comes to prenatal screening. To better support these conversations, Clinical Excellence Queensland’s Maternity and Neonatal Clinical Network (QMNCN) has partnered with Down Syndrome Queensland to launch new resources and training packages, including a new website dedicated to prenatal screening. The website and associated resources provide clinicians with the complete package, including:

  • screening and diagnostic processes
  • informed consent
  • common chromosomal conditions
  • the communication of results
  • pregnancy counselling
  • where to refer families for further support.

“The website is a great tool for refreshing the knowledge you already have as a maternity care provider, or as a starting point if you’re early on in your career,” Pauline McGrath, Senior Genetic Counsellor from Genetic Health Queensland (Metro North Hospital and Health Service) said.

The website is public facing, which means clinicians can access it anytime from any device. Importantly, there is also a dedicated section for prospective parents, providing information about the prenatal screening options available, the conditions being screened for, and the choices they may have to make on their journey.

Pauline, who sat on QMNCN’s Prenatal Screening Sub-Committee, said a new Practice Resource had also been developed, providing evidence-based information for healthcare professionals to support parents in making informed decisions about prenatal screening and, where relevant, the future of their pregnancy. “We received strong feedback from consumers about communication, and the importance of not assuming all families will choose termination of their pregnancy should there be a chance of a chromosome variation or if one is confirmed, so the resources support development -of those skills.” 

The resource has been endorsed by the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and assists with the implementation of existing local and national guidelines.

To further support health professionals, an e-Learning course, hosted by the Australian College of Midwives, is also available. “The course is self-paced and takes only 60 minutes to complete and is a great opportunity for all maternity care providers – not just midwives – to build on their skills,” Pauline said.

The prenatal screening project was co-developed by Down Syndrome Queensland (DSQ) with support from Queensland Health, families with lived experience, and healthcare professionals.

“We hope that a site like this can provide prospective parents with as much accurate information as possible so they can feel empowered to make informed choices along the way,” Darryl Steff, CEO of Down Syndrome Queensland, said.

Check if your prenatal screening knowledge passes the test by visiting the new website now.

Last updated: 25 November 2022