Risk discourse and prenatal genetic counseling

Medicalization is a highly visible and widespread social phenomenon in Western societies which is expressed differently according to gender. Pregnancy is heavily medicalized, and a surveillance network surrounds pregnant women, holding them accountable for both their own health and the production of a healthy fetus. Prenatal risk control is proposed in a context where diagnostic and therapeutic possibilities overlap. This problem is aggravated by the fact that abortion is illegal in Brazil. The current article is the result of research in a genetic counseling unit that consisted of: observation of consultations, review of patient files, and interviews with health professionals. The highly medicalized context of genetic counseling is discussed, as well as physicians' perception of their own practice. The article also discusses the potential impact on women's decisions related to risks, techniques, exams, and their consequences.

Genetic Counseling; Maternal and Child Health; Prenatal Care; Risk; Women

Escola Nacional de Saúde Pública Sergio Arouca, Fundação Oswaldo Cruz Rua Leopoldo Bulhões, 1480 , 21041-210 Rio de Janeiro RJ Brazil, Tel.:+55 21 2598-2511, Fax: +55 21 2598-2737 / +55 21 2598-2514 - Rio de Janeiro - RJ - Brazil
E-mail: cadernos@ensp.fiocruz.br