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Blood and Urine Newborn Screening

Home > Topics > Public health > Newborn Screening > Blood and Urine > Process and results > Reasons for learning your child's sickle cell anemia gene carrier status (or not)
Blood and Urine Newborn Screening

Reasons for learning your child’s sickle cell anemia gene carrier status (or not)

Reasons for learning your child's carrier status right now

Your child’s carrier status can provide an indication of your own carrier status and help you plan future pregnancies

Haemoglobin diseases are recessive hereditary disorders. If your child is a carrier, at least one of the child’s biological parents is also a carrier. If both parents carry the gene, for each pregnancy, the probability of having an afflicted child is 1 in 4, while the probability of a child being a carrier of the gene for the disease is 1 in 2. Learn more about Recessive Hereditary Diseases.

You will have all information you need to inform your child at the appropriate time

Some parents want this information in order to warn their child of his or her carrier status before they are old enough to make a decision on starting a family of their own. This information will make it possible to take decisions with all the facts in hand.

You will be able to inform other members of your family

If your child is a carrier of a blood disease, other family members (brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins) could also carry the gene.

Reasons for not learning your child's carrier status right now

There is no emergency

Carriers of the gene for this disease are not sick and are no more likely than anyone else to become afflicted. Carrier status is information that will be useful to your child later in life, when a decision to start a family is made. Some parents consider that this information is relevant but prefer to wait until their child is old enough to take a decision on its own.

The information could worry you needlessly about the health of your child

Some parents say that they tended to see their child as being more vulnerable once they know the screening results, even if this did not mean that the child was more at risk for health problems than other children. To avoid unnecessary stress, some parents prefer not to ask for the information right away.

The test only screens for sickle cell anemia gene carriers

Newborn blood and urinary screening only tests for sickle cell anemia gene carrier status. The screening does not test for other blood diseases, such as thalassemia.

Your child’s carrier status results do not necessarily reflect your own

Parents can be carriers of a haemoglobin disease even if their child is not.

There are other ways of finding out your child’s carrier status and/or your own

Testing to reveal if you are a haemoglobin disease carrier can take place at any age. If you come from a region of the world where haemoglobin diseases are common, speak with your doctor, who will be able to prescribe a test that will detect your own carrier status. Read the Sickle Cell Anemia page to see which groups of people are most likely to carry this gene.  

Carrier status can indirectly reveal non-paternity

When a child is identified as a carrier, its parents are advised to be tested to learn their own carrier status. That information can enable them to plan future pregnancies. On the other hand, the result could indirectly show that the father is not the child’s biological father.

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