A Guide for Families and Individuals Affected by Extra X and Y Chromosomes.
There are many mixed emotions and it is a rollercoaster of varying reactions, from excitement of being pregnant to grief, devastation and worry and back to excitement. Often there is a large element of shock involved when a prenatal diagnosis of XYY syndrome is received, as many expectant parents are unaware and haven’t been informed that this is a possible condition that can be identified on these prenatal testing. It’s deeply distressing when a problem is picked up while a couple or individual is pregnant, it is important to go through all the emotions of a new diagnoses often associated with the emotions present in the cycle of grief, it is extremely important to seek support if needed.
If the prenatal testing was done via the NIPT or Harmony test where they draw blood from the mother it can lead to confusion, worry and pressure as the test only gives a percentage of likely diagnoses. It is often a challenging time where an individual or couple try and make a decision on what to do next and whether to get a confirmation of diagnoses or not. There are 3 ways to get a 100% confirmation on these results; samples of the unborn baby’s DNA can be obtained through amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling (CVS), or waiting for the little one to arrive and having a small blood sample taken for analysis. Prenatal testing like amniocentesis and CVS are invasive and can have a small risk of causing a miscarriage. It is important for expectant parents to take their time in making this decision which can often feel completely overwhelming, but there is support available.
Couples or individuals may decide to talk to friends and family or hold off until they have gotten their head around the issue. They will probably find that family and friends who are usually supportive on other issues, will offer wonderful reassurance and comfort. Those who don’t deal well with problems may be distant or try to blame someone or something for what’s happening, making expectant parents feel isolated and more stressed.
It’s important to know that AXYS are here to provide one on one phone or email support and it is also highly recommended for expectant parents to see a Genetic Counsellor.
Expectant parents will have a lot of questions, a big one will be why did this happen? Most cases of XYY syndrome are due to a cell division error in the sperm prior to conception. Rarely, the cell division error occurs after conception resulting in a mosaic of cells with 46 chromosomes and 47 chromosomes known as 46XY/XYY. The exact cause for why these errors in cell division occur is not understood. It is also important to know that it is not inherited, and it doesn’t mean any future children will have a chromosomal variation.
A pregnancy with an unborn child with a XYY syndrome diagnoses is not unlike any other pregnancy, there is no need for additional support or intervention due to this prenatal diagnosis. Expectant parents should still engage with an obstetrician, midwife, GP or maternity hospital like they would any other pregnancy.
The condition is rarely diagnosed at birth, because the baby boy looks healthy and unaffected and there are no medical indications that further testing is required.
The internet can be a scary place and can further impact on the stress, worry and sadness new parents are feeling. There are problems and challenges that CAN potentially be associated with XYY, some children may have some of them, but almost certainly won’t have all of them.
As overwhelming as it initially, having a prenatal diagnosis allows parents to help their son live a fun, fulfilling and happy life. Early intervention is the key. If a child shows delays in speech, language, motor skills and social skills and needs assistance, initiating and implementing early intervention will ensure they get the support the child needs, it makes a huge positive impact. Some children will need no early intervention.
At AXYS we are here to support expectant parents, it’s important for people to not feel alone in this journey and they are certainly not alone. We are here to offer support, guidance and a listening ear and put people in contact with individuals who have been through a similar journey. Our network of fantastic parents and professionals have developed some helpful documents to assist expectant parents with a prenatal diagnosis of XYY syndrome during this confusing, challenging and emotional time.