Paediatrics Publications

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BACKGROUND: The risk of psychosocial harm in families of infants with false-positive (FP) newborn bloodspot screening (NBS) results for cystic fibrosis (CF) is a longstanding concern. Whether well designed retrieval and confirmatory testing systems can mitigate risks remains unknown. METHODS: Using a mixed-methods cohort design, we obtained prospective self-report data from mothers of infants with FP CF NBS results 2 to 3 months after confirmatory testing at Ontario's largest follow-up center, and from a randomly selected control sample of mothers of screen negative infants from the same region. Mothers completed a questionnaire assessing experience and psychosocial response. A sample of mothers of FP infants completed qualitative interviews. RESULTS: One hundred thirty-four mothers of FP infants (response rate, 55%) and 411 controls (response rate, 47%) completed questionnaires; 54 mothers of FP infants were interviewed. Selected psychosocial response measures did not detect psychosocial distress in newborns or 1 year later (P > .05). Mothers recalled distress during notification of the positive result and in the follow-up testing period related to fear of chronic illness, but valued the screening system of care in mitigating concerns. CONCLUSIONS: Although immediate distress was reported among mothers of FP infants, selected psychometric tools did not detect these concerns. The NBS center from which mothers were recruited minimizes delay between notification and confirmatory testing and ensures trained professionals are communicating results and facilitating follow-up. These factors may explain the presence of minimal psychosocial burden. The screening system reflected herein may be a model for NBS programs working to minimize FP-related psychosocial harm.