Health-care providers’ perspectives on uncertainty generated by variant forms of newborn screening targets Academic Article uri icon

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  • PURPOSE: Despite the public health successes of newborn bloodspot screening, uncertainty associated with variant forms of primary screening targets has led to discrepancies in medical management. This study explored health-care providers' approaches to managing atypical forms of inherited metabolic diseases (IMDs) in the absence of evidence-based guidelines. METHODS: Semistructured telephone interviews were conducted with metabolic specialists. 3-Methylcrotonyl CoA deficiency and variant forms of phenylketonuria, biotinidase deficiency, and fatty acid oxidation disorders were considered. Data were analyzed inductively and deductively using a novel taxonomy of uncertainty. RESULTS: Health-care providers (n = 12) navigate diagnostic, prognostic, and therapeutic challenges of uncertainty while interpreting patient and family attitudes, preferences, and ideas in the care of children with these result types. Participants explained the limits of classifying mild and atypical metabolic phenotypes. Participants also described the challenge of finding balance between cautious care and overmedicalization. Developing consistent care plans and honest communication with families were perceived as effective strategies when navigating uncertainty. CONCLUSION: Providers' experiences suggest a need for transparent and accessible guidelines that account for challenges associated with uncertainty generated by screening. Timely consideration of this challenge is warranted with increasing emergence of genotype-first approaches to screening.


  • Azzopardi, Paul J
  • Upshur, Ross
  • Luca, Stephanie
  • Venkataramanan, Viji
  • Potter, Beth K
  • Chakraborty, Pranesh K
  • Hayeems, Robin Z

publication date

  • March 2020