With so many advancements in neonatal testing, couples can learn so much about their babies prior to their births – and directly after. In the United Kingdom, while additional testing is becoming more readily available, many believe that testing to see the functionality and strength of the baby’s spine is a necessary screening. There is a potentially deadly condition called spinal muscular atrophy that can compromise the quality of babies’ lives severely.
Many parents want to be given the choice on whether or not to be aware of such birth defects during the course of the pregnancy. Researchers from University of Warwick found that most individuals are in favor of this type of newborn screening to verify whether the presence of SMA, or spinal muscular atrophy, is present.
This neuromuscular disorder – inherited from the genes of the mother or father – causes a huge amount of health severities that lead to many infant deaths worldwide. While this type of screening is readily available in many developed countries around the world, a routine screening for SMA is not something that is done in the UK.
Felicity Boardman who works at the university’s medical school says it quite simply: “With the recent release of the first therapy for SMA, calls are being made internationally for a reconsideration of the current stance on screening; however, very little is known about the views of the general public. We decided to address this gap in evidence by surveying people about their views.”
This is a great way of seeing just where the citizens of the UK are when it comes to certain advancements that would give parents and patients the ability to really see what’s coming when it comes to their babies. Having the necessary and pertinent information is much better than not being informed about options. The fact that something could be a very real and dangerous threat to the safety and health of an unborn baby should be known as soon as possible.
Over 80 percent of the 232 members of the public surveyed were in favor of the newborn screenings. Many believed that it would lead to improved healthcare and life expectancy for the infants that were affected. It would also be a good way for the expectant partners to decide about any future pregnancies. Those who were not in favor thought that knowing this information may have a negative impact on the familial unit. It could affect stress patterns and interfere with parent/child bonding.
Acceptability Is Key
Dr. Broadman went on to say: “Public acceptability is a key component in the evaluation of any potential screening program in the UK. This study demonstrates that newborn screening for SMA is viewed largely positively by people unfamiliar with the condition. The perceived importance of early identification overrode all other social and ethical concerns about screening for the majority of participants.”
Many of the participants could see how advantageous it would be to have the information about a baby’s condition in utero or right after the baby has been born. This benefits both the baby and the parents as proper treatment can be administered at once. Screening methods generally have positive results and reactions because they put the patients and babies in a position of knowledge which allows them to make informed decisions.