A Priori Attitudes Predict Amniocentesis Uptake in Women of Advanced Maternal Age: A Pilot Study

Julia Grinshpun-Cohen, Talya Miron-Shatz, Laila Rhee-Morris, Barbara Briscoe, Elon Pras, Dena Towner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Amniocentesis is an invasive procedure performed during pregnancy to determine, among other things, whether the fetus has Down syndrome. It is often preceded by screening, which gives a probabilistic risk assessment. Thus, ample information is conveyed to women with the goal to inform their decisions. This study examined the factors that predict amniocentesis uptake among pregnant women of advanced maternal age (older than 35 years old at the time of childbirth). Participants filled out a questionnaire regarding risk estimates, demographics, and attitudes on screening and pregnancy termination before their first genetic counseling appointment and were followed up to 24 weeks of gestation. Findings show that women's decisions are not always informed by screening results or having a medical indication. Psychological factors measured at the beginning of pregnancy: amniocentesis risk tolerance, pregnancy termination tolerance, and age risk perception affected amniocentesis uptake. Although most women thought that screening for Down syndrome risk would inform their decision, they later stated other reasons for screening, such as preparing for the possibility of a child with special needs. Findings suggest that women's decisions regarding amniocentesis are driven not only by medical factors, but also by a priori attitudes. The authors believe that these should be addressed in the dialogue on women's informed use of prenatal tests.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1107-1113
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Health Communication
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2 Sep 2015


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