Never “totally prepared”: Support groups on helping families prepare for a child with a genetic condition

Kaitlynn P. Craig, Kirsten A. Riggan, Sabina Rubeck, Stephanie H. Meredith, Megan A. Allyse, Marsha Michie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A rapid increase in the reach and breadth of prenatal genetic screening and testing has led to an expanding need for prenatal support of families receiving this genetic information. As part of a larger study investigating prenatal preparation for a child with a genetic condition, we interviewed representatives of patient advocacy groups (PAGs) who support parents post-diagnosis. Groups supporting families with Down syndrome were often local or regional, while other groups were often national or international in scope. Groups varied in their willingness or ability to support families prior to making a pregnancy continuation decision, and participants reflected on ways they addressed these needs with individual counseling and referrals, if needed. Participants described supporting parents with information about conditions and a range of lived experiences for families, while referring families to healthcare professionals for technical questions and additional medical needs. PAGs also prioritized connecting parents experiencing a new diagnosis with other families for peer support and community-building, both in person and on social media. Participants discussed limitations, such as a lack of racially-concordant support, ability to offer resources in languages other than English, and a lack of funding to meet the expressed needs of families post-diagnosis. Overall, participants emphasized that the parenting experience of each child is unique, irrespective of a genetic diagnosis, an experience for which parents can never be “totally prepared.”

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)319-327
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Community Genetics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2023


  • Genetic community support
  • Genetic conditions
  • Pregnancy preparation
  • Prenatal preparation
  • Prenatal testing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Genetics(clinical)


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