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Information about prenatal screening for Down syndrome: ethnic differences in knowledge.

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the provision of information about prenatal screening for Down syndrome to women of Dutch, Turkish and Surinamese origins, and to examine the effects of this provision on ethnic differences in knowledge about Down syndrome and prenatal screening.

METHODS: The study population consisted of 105 Dutch, 100 Turkish and 65 Surinamese pregnant women attending midwifery or obstetrical practices in The Netherlands. Each woman was personally interviewed for 3 weeks (mean) after booking for prenatal care.

RESULTS: Most women reported to have received oral and/or written information about prenatal screening by their midwife or obstetrician at booking for prenatal care. Turkish and Surinamese women less often read the information than Dutch women, more often reported difficulties in understanding the information, and had less knowledge about Down syndrome, prenatal screening and amniocentesis. Language skills and educational level contributed most to the explanation of these ethnic variations.

CONCLUSION: Although most Dutch, Turkish and Surinamese women reported to have received information from their midwife or obstetrician, ethnic differences in knowledge about Down syndrome and prenatal screening are substantial.

PRACTICE IMPLICATIONS: Interventions to improve the provision of information to women from ethnic minority groups should especially be aimed at overcoming language barriers, and targeting information to the women's abilities to comprehend the information about prenatal screening for Down syndrome.

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