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Despite increasing research into men's experience of pregnancy and fatherhood, experiences of men whose partner is undergoing fetal screening and diagnosis have been less well-studied. This paper begins to fill a gap in the literature by identifying several potentially conflicting male roles in screening, diagnosis and subsequent decision-making. Drawing on a wider qualitative study in the UK of experiences of antenatal screening, it is suggested men may play inter-linked roles: as parents, bystanders, protectors/supporters, gatherers and guardians of fact, and deciders or enforcers. These may be roles they have chosen, or which are assigned to them intentionally or unintentionally by others (their female partner, health professionals). Men's status and feelings as fathers are sometimes overlooked or suppressed, or may conflict with their other roles, particularly when screening detects possible problems with the baby. The paper concludes by discussing these findings in the context of the wider literature on men and pregnancy.

Original publication




Journal article


Soc Sci Med

Publication Date





1349 - 1359


Congenital Abnormalities, Fathers, Female, Gender Identity, Humans, Male, Men, Mothers, Pregnancy, Pregnancy Outcome, Prenatal Diagnosis