Genetic screening has been defined as any kind of test performed systematically for the early detection or exclusion of a genetic disease, genetic predisposition or resistance to a disease, or to determine whether a person carries a gene variant that may produce disease in his or her offspring. In comparison to ‘genetic testing’, the term ‘genetic screening’ should be reserved for the explicit and systematic application of a diagnostic genetic test across a whole population of asymptomatic people (population screening) or a subset of a population such as pregnant women (prenatal/antenatal screening) or newborn infants (neonatal screening). This survey intends to present the current (2006–2008) status of genetic screening and the organization of genetic screening programmes in selected European countries as a background for future attempts to harmonize standards and procedures of genetic screening, an explicit aim of the European Network of Excellence, EuroGentest ( Our report builds on the first comprehensive assessment of genetic screening programmes in Germany by the European Society of Human Genetics, starting with a workshop of experts in 1999, the production of background documentation in 2000, and a final report in 2003.

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