Reproductive Decision Making and Genetic Predisposition to Sudden Cardiac Death

Dorit Barlevy, David Wasserman, Marina Stolerman, Kathleen E. Erskine, Siobhan M. Dolan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background: With current genetic technology, it is possible to detect mutations associated with long QT syndrome (LQTS), a hereditary cardiac arrhythmia syndrome. As a result, prospective parents diagnosed with LQTS will have to decide whether or not to prevent its transmission to future generations, either by not procreating or through the use of assisted reproductive technologies or prenatal testing. This article explores how a hereditary predisposition to sudden cardiac death can influence reproductive decision making. Methods: This study draws from interviews and focus groups with individuals who have personal or family histories of cardiac arrhythmia or sudden death. A keyword search was conducted on interview transcripts to identify quotes for analysis. Results: Participants expressed complex, often ambivalent attitudes about the prospect of having a child with a predisposition to sudden cardiac death. Their comments reveal conflicting understandings of genetic responsibility and reflect the variable effects of personal experience on reproductive decision making. This article compares attitudes toward LQTS and other genetic conditions in analyzing the themes that emerged in interviews and focus groups. Conclusions: The "disability critique" of prenatal testing should be applied carefully to the context of genetic predisposition to sudden cardiac death in order to understand reproductive decision making. Firsthand experience with the condition, among other factors, can weigh heavily in those decisions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30-39
Number of pages10
JournalAJOB Primary Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • LQTS
  • genetic responsibility
  • parental responsibility
  • prenatal testing
  • reproductive decision making
  • sudden cardiac death


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