Population-based preconception carrier screening: how potential users from the general population view a test for 50 serious diseases.
Plantinga M., Birnie E., Abbott KM., Sinke RJ., Lucassen AM., Schuurmans J., Kaplan S., Verkerk MA., Ranchor AV., van Langen IM.
With the increased international focus on personalized health care and preventive medicine, next-generation sequencing (NGS) has substantially expanded the options for carrier screening of serious, recessively inherited diseases. NGS screening tests not only offer reproductive options not previously available to couples, but they may also ultimately reduce the number of children born with devastating disorders. To date, preconception carrier screening (PCS) has largely targeted single diseases such as cystic fibrosis, but NGS allows the testing of many genes or diseases simultaneously. We have developed an expanded NGS PCS test for couples; simultaneously it covers 50 very serious, early-onset, autosomal recessive diseases that are untreatable. This is the first, noncommercial, population-based, expanded PCS test to be offered prospectively to couples in a health-care setting in Europe. So far, little is known about how potential users view such a PCS test. We therefore performed an online survey in 2014 among 500 people from the target population in the Netherlands. We enquired about their intention to take an expanded PCS test if one was offered, and through which provider they would like to see it offered. One-third of the respondents said they would take such a test were it to be offered. The majority (44%) preferred the test to be offered via their general practitioner (GP) and 58% would be willing to pay for the test, with a median cost of [euro ]75. Our next step is to perform an implementation study in which this PCS test will be provided via selected GPs in the Northern Netherlands.