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Chromosomal microarray analysis in prenatal diagnosis: ethical considerations of the Belgian approach
  1. Joke Muys1,2,
  2. Bettina Blaumeiser2,3,
  3. Katrien Janssens2,
  4. Patrick Loobuyck4,
  5. Yves Jacquemyn1,5
  1. 1 Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Universitair Ziekenhuis Antwerpen, Edegem, Belgium
  2. 2 Center for Medical Genetics, Universiteit Antwerpen, Edegem, Belgium
  3. 3 Department of Medical Genetics, Universitair Ziekenhuis Antwerpen, Edegem, Belgium
  4. 4 Center for Ethics, Universiteit Antwerpen, Edegem, Belgium
  5. 5 Global Health Institute, Universiteit Antwerpen, Edegem, Belgium
  1. Correspondence to Dr Joke Muys, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Universitair Ziekenhuis Antwerpen, Edegem 2610, Belgium; joke.muys{at}


Detection of genetic aberrations in prenatal samples, obtained through amniocentesis or chorion villus biopsy, is increasingly performed using chromosomal microarray (CMA), a technique that can uncover both aneuploidies and copy number variants throughout the genome. Despite the obvious benefits of CMA, the decision on implementing the technology is complicated by ethical issues concerning variant interpretation and reporting. In Belgium, uniform guidelines were composed and a shared database for prenatal CMA findings was established. This Belgian approach sparks discussion: it is evidence-based, prevents inconsistencies and avoids parental anxiety, but can be considered paternalistic. Here, we reflect on the cultural and moral bases of the Belgian reporting system of prenatally detected variants.

  • Genetic Counselling/Prenatal Diagnosis
  • Ethics
  • Genethics
  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology

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  • Contributors JM is the first author, she wrote the paper, in cooperation with YJ. BB is a prenatal medical geneticist. KJ is the laboratory supervisor of prenatal genetics of the center of Medical Genetics Antwerp. They gave their advice, and reviewed and revised the paper. PL is an ethicist at the University of Antwerp. He provided ethical advice and helped review and revise the paper.

  • Funding For this research project, JM received a research grant from the Research Foundation Flanders—Belgium (FWO). The FWO supports ground-breaking fundamental and strategic research at universities of the Flemish Community.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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