Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Original research
Reproductive choices and intrafamilial communication in neurogenetic diseases with different self-estimated severities


Background Low uptake of presymptomatic testing and medically assisted reproduction in families impacted by neurogenetic diseases prompted us to investigate how reproductive options are considered and whether there is a relationship with perceived severity of the disease. We hypothesised that self-estimated severity would influence opinion on reproductive options and that prenatal/preimplantation diagnosis would be a motivation to inform relatives about their risk.

Methods We invited people impacted by neurogenetic diseases to evaluate the severity of their familial disease using analogic visual scales and to answer questionnaires about reproductive choices and intrafamilial communication. We compared answers between diseases and with the perceived severity of each disease.

Results We analysed 562 questionnaires. Participants were impacted by Huntington disease (n=307), spinocerebellar ataxias (n=114), Steinert myotonic dystrophy (n=82) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis/frontotemporal dementia (n=59). Self-estimated severity differed between pathologies (p<0.0001). Overall, participants considered prenatal diagnosis (78.0±34.4 out of 100) and preimplantation diagnosis (75.2±36.1 out of 100) justified more than termination of pregnancy (68.6±38.5 out of 100). They were less in favour of gamete donation (48.3±39.8 out of 100) or pregnancy abstention (43.3±40.3 out of 100). The greater the perceived severity of the disease, the more reproductive options were considered justified, except for gamete donation. Prenatal/preimplantation diagnosis was a motivation to inform relatives for only 55.3% of participants (p=0.01).

Conclusion Self-estimated severity minimally impacts opinions towards reproductive options. Medically assisted reproduction procedures are rarely sought and do not motivate familial communication.

  • genetic counseling
  • reproductive medicine
  • neurodegenerative diseases
  • ethics

Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request.

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.