The perception of parents with a child with sickle cell disease in Ghana towards prenatal diagnosis

Menford Owusu Ampomah*, Karl Michael Atkin, Kate Flemming

*Corresponding author for this work

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Sickle cell disease is a global health concern. In the UK and USA, where the condition is common, prenatal testing is a routine aspect of antenatal care and offered on the basis of informed reproductive choice. Notwithstanding considerable advances in testing technologies, prenatal diagnosis for sickle cell disease is not common in Africa. There is a particular lack of research examining parental perceptions about the acceptability of antenatal screening. This qualitative paper explores the perceptions of parents, who had lived experiences of caring for a child with SCD, towards prenatal testing for sickle cell in Ghana. A purposive sample of 27 parents (four fathers and 23 mothers) was recruited via a sickle cell clinic in Accra, Ghana. Material was collected using semi-structured interview, using a topic guide that explored parental views on prenatal testing, along with factors influencing decision making about antenatal care. The findings shown that parents believed the decision to accept testing should be negotiated between both parents rather than the extended family. The decision to accept testing did not mean that parents would use the information to terminate the pregnancy of a child with SCD. They mentioned that they were more likely to use the test result to prepare themselves for the birth of their child. Parents accepted, however, that choice was important and that some parents may wish to terminate the pregnancy, given the impact of SCD on a person’s quality of life. Parents lack awareness about prenatal testing because the procedure was not part of antenatal services in Ghana. However, the majority would accept testing should the process be available and affordable. The paper suggests that policy needs to establish and promote sickle cell prenatal testing/prenatal diagnosis and awareness among at-risk populations, bearing in mind the cost implication of the technology, equal access to healthcare, and the importance of informed reproductive decision making, which connects to the parents’ experience of testing/screening.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)587-595
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Community Genetics
Publication statusPublished - 5 Oct 2022

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© The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2022.This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy.

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