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Mental Health - Non-Clinical Medicine - Pediatrics and Child Health - Public Health and Epidemiology

Psychological Effects of False-Positive Results in Expanded Newborn Screening in China
Published: Friday, April 27, 2012
Author: Wen-Jun Tu et al.

by Wen-Jun Tu, Jian He, Hui Chen, Xiao-Dong Shi, Ying Li


As more families participate expanded newborn screening for metabolic disorders in China, the overall number of false positives increases. Our goal was to assess the potential impact on parental stress, perceptions of the child's health, and family relationships.


Parents of 49 infants with false-positive screening results for metabolic disorders in the expanded newborn screening panel were compared with parents of 42 children with normal screening results. Parents first completed structured interview using likert scales, closed and open questions. Parents also completed the parenting stress index.


A total of 88 mothers and 41 fathers were interviewed. More mothers in the false-positive group reported that their children required extra parental care (21%), compared with 5% of mothers in the normal-screened group (P<0.001). 39% of mothers in the false-positive group reported that they worry about their child's future development, compared with 10% of mothers in the normal-screened group (P<0.001). Fathers in the false-positive group did not differ from fathers in the normal-screened group in reporting worry about their child's extra care requirements, and their child's future development. Children with false-positive results compared with children with normal results were triple as likely to experience hospitalization (27%vs 9%, respectively; P<0.001).


The results showing false-positive screening results may affect parental stress and the parent-child relationship. Parental stress and anxiety can be reduced with improved education and communication to parents about false-positive results.