Does genetic risk for common adult diseases influence reproductive plans? Evidence from a national survey experiment in the United States

Candas Pinar, Rene Almeling, Shana Kushner Gadarian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Prospective parents have long been able to learn details about their offspring's DNA, and social scientists have demonstrated that this form of genetic information influences reproductive decision-making. Now, new tests offer adults information about their own genetic risk for common diseases that begin later in life, raising new questions about whether this kind of personal risk will also affect fertility plans. Drawing on a survey experiment (N = 223) that assigned individuals a genetic risk (20%, 30% … 80%) for an adult-onset disease (heart disease, colon cancer, Alzheimer's Disease), this study examines whether such risks lead people to reconsider their plans to have children. Bringing together qualitative research on genetic risk and reproductive decision-making with demographic analyses of uncertainty and fertility, we find that when assigned a hypothetical genetic risk for a common adult-onset disease, childless individuals who plan to have children in the future are unlikely to reconsider those plans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)62-68
Number of pages7
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Volume218
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018

Fingerprint

Disease
experiment
evidence
Fertility
fertility
Decision Making
decision making
Qualitative Research
heart disease
social scientist
dementia
Colonic Neoplasms
Uncertainty
Surveys and Questionnaires
Genetic Risk
Experiment
qualitative research
Heart Diseases
Alzheimer Disease
parents

Keywords

  • Genetic risk
  • Health uncertainty
  • Reproductive decision-making
  • Survey experiment
  • United States

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • History and Philosophy of Science

Cite this

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abstract = "Prospective parents have long been able to learn details about their offspring's DNA, and social scientists have demonstrated that this form of genetic information influences reproductive decision-making. Now, new tests offer adults information about their own genetic risk for common diseases that begin later in life, raising new questions about whether this kind of personal risk will also affect fertility plans. Drawing on a survey experiment (N = 223) that assigned individuals a genetic risk (20{\%}, 30{\%} … 80{\%}) for an adult-onset disease (heart disease, colon cancer, Alzheimer's Disease), this study examines whether such risks lead people to reconsider their plans to have children. Bringing together qualitative research on genetic risk and reproductive decision-making with demographic analyses of uncertainty and fertility, we find that when assigned a hypothetical genetic risk for a common adult-onset disease, childless individuals who plan to have children in the future are unlikely to reconsider those plans.",
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