Genetics Professionals’ Opinions of Whole-Genome Sequencing in the Newborn Period

Elizabeth Ulm*, W. Gregory Feero, Richard Dineen, Joel Charrow, Catherine Wicklund

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Newborn screening (NBS) programs have been successful in identifying infants with rare, treatable, congenital conditions. While current programs rely largely on biochemical analysis, some predict that in the future, genome sequencing may be used as an adjunct. The purpose of this exploratory pilot study was to begin to characterize genetics professionals’ opinions of the use of whole-genome sequencing (WGS) in NBS. We surveyed members of the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics (ACMG) via an electronic survey distributed through email. The survey included questions about results disclosure, the current NBS paradigm, and the current criteria for adding a condition to the screening panel. The response rate was 7.3 % (n = 113/1549). The majority of respondents (85 %, n = 96/113) felt that WGS should not be currently used in NBS, and that if it were used, it should not be mandatory (86.5 %, n = 96/111). However, 75.7 % (n = 84/111) foresee it as a future use of WGS. Respondents felt that accurate interpretation of results (86.5 %, n = 83/96), a more extensive consent process (72.6 %, n = 69/95), pre- (79.2 %, n = 76/96) and post-test (91.6 %, n = 87/95) counseling, and comparable costs (70.8 %, n = 68/96) and turn-around-times (64.6 %, n = 62/96) to current NBS would be important for using WGS in NBS. Participants were in favor of disclosing most types of results at some point in the lifetime. However, the majority (87.3 %, n = 96/110) also indicated that parents should be able to choose what results are disclosed. Overall, respondents foresee NBS as a future use of WGS, but indicated that WGS should not occur within the framework of traditional NBS. They agreed with the current criteria for including a condition on the recommended uniform screening panel (RUSP). Further discussion about these criteria is needed in order to better understand how they could be utilized if WGS is incorporated into NBS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)452-463
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Genetic Counseling
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 18 2015


  • Newborn screening
  • Public health
  • Whole-genome sequencing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics(clinical)


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