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Story of the Month - April 2018

Updated: Apr 17, 2021

Centre member Dr Janice Ying-chui Lau completed her MPhil in Anthropology in CUHK, and her interest in medical anthropology led her further to acquire a PhD in Public Health at CUHK. Dr Lau, with her supervisors Prof Huso Yi and Prof Martin Wong, spearheaded a project on bioethical and social issues revolving decision-making by pregnant women over the choice of NIPT (Non-invasive Prenatal Test) Vs IPD (Invasive Prenatal Diagnosis) regarding the detection of Down Syndrome.


NIPT is a ground-breaking clinical technique developed by Prof Dennis Lo. It utilises DNA sequencing technologies to detect Down syndrome in fetuses by directly analysing a blood sample from the mother. In her study, Dr Lau conducted in-depth interviews with 60 Hong Kong Chinese pregnant women (45 NIPT and 15 IPD users). Her qualitative findings revealed that the majority of women who chose NIPT were from the higher income group. They were at high maternal age, who were disturbed by pregnancy-related issues such as infertility, miscarriage symptom, or had a miscarriage history, and wanted to avoid risks associated with Invasive Prenatal Diagnosis.


The findings show that most participants valued aspects of both relational and individual autonomy in decision-making for NIPT. Women expected support from doctors as experts on the topic and wanted to involve their husband in decision-making while retaining control over the outcome. Somewhat surprisingly, the findings do not provide support for the involvement of family members in decision-making for NIPT. 

結果顯示大多數參加者在NIPT的決策過程中都重視關係自主和個人自主。 她們期望醫生能以專家的身份跟她們討論這個話題,並希望她們的丈夫在決策過程中參與,而同時保留她們對決策的控制。有點令人驚訝的是,結果並不支持孕婦的家庭的成員參與NIPT決策的論據。

The study recommends that information with regards to NIPT need to be regularly updated and made more easily available to women so that they could make timely, informed choices. It is thus essential to provide adequate information through pamphlets in O&G clinics in public hospitals, and to train health professionals in NIPT to support pregnant women in Hong Kong. 


Pregnant women experience the joy of pregnancy while feeling burdened by the need of testing fetal disability (Photo credit: Ms Elaine Ng)

孕婦體驗到懷孕的喜悅,但同時由於需要為胎兒檢測是否有先天殘疾而感到負擔(圖片由Elaine Ng小姐提供)


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