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Author Notes:

Correspondence: Jeannie Visootsak, Email: jvisoot@emory.edu

Author Contributions: Jeannie Visootsak and Krista Charen have equal contribution to this work.

Acknowledgments: We would like to thank the parents and children for their participation in this study.


Research Funding:

Financial support for this study was provided by the D. J. Shockley Foundation, Holly Lane Foundation and the Fragile X Association of Georgia.

Grant sponsors: NIH/NICHD; Grant number: 1K23HD058043-01A1 (JV).

Grant sponsor: NIH/NHCHD; Grant number: R01 HD29909 (SS).


  • Fragile X syndrome
  • African American
  • Diagnosis
  • Medical support

Diagnosis of Fragile X Syndrome: A Qualitative Study of African American Families


Journal Title:

Journal of Genetic Counseling


Volume 21, Number 6


, Pages 845-853

Type of Work:

Article | Post-print: After Peer Review


Fragile X syndrome (FXS) is an inherited genetic condition with critical consequences to the proband and family members at all levels in the generations. Although evidence demonstrates that the rates of diagnosis for FXS are the same in all racial groups, age of diagnosis in African American children has been reported to occur later than in Caucasian children. Additionally, African American families are seriously under-represented in existing FXS research studies. As such, it is important to understand the possible disparities in the underlying factors to receiving a diagnosis in African American families with FXS. Herein, a qualitative approach was adopted to describe the overall FXS diagnosis experiences (pre-diagnosis, diagnosis, and post-diagnosis stages) of a convenience sample of 10 African American mothers. We identified three major findings among our participants: (1) FXS testing is not ordered immediately once a parent expresses concerns of developmental delays to the pediatricians, (2) the diagnosis is sometimes delivered in an insensitive manner with information often being outdated and unbalanced towards negative aspects, (3) communication issues among family members exists once the diagnosis is discovered. Although these qualitative data may not be representative of the whole group, these findings have significant implications for genetic counseling and our understanding in providing support and advocacy for African American families with FXS.

Copyright information:

© National Society of Genetic Counselors, Inc. 2011

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