Reader K writes:
I have a question. How do you all approach the prenatal testing that is available? I got a chill when a nurse suggested yesterday that I get testing done early so that I could “do something about it” before I’m out of the first trimester. I’m almost 37, and this is only my second pregnancy, but there wasn’t this pressure with my first.
K, great question.
Just to give you some insight into my personal experiences, I have never opted to have the AFP (alphfetoprotein, triple screen, or quad screen) testing. It tests the mother’s blood for the presence of AFP (and other serums), secreted by the baby’s liver, which can indicate a host of anomalies, including neural tube defects, Down syndrome, kidney disorders, and others. According to my midwife, of the AFP tests showing a positive reading, 90% are false positives, unnecessarily scaring the heck out of the poor parents! Positive AFP tests can (and usually are) followed up with an ultrasound and possibly an amniocentesis/chorionic villus sampling (CVS). Many times an u/s is all that is necessary to confirm/discredit the AFP results. Amnios and CVS carry risks (1-2%) of losing the baby.
Now, as a disclaimer, some friends have recently been encouraged toward early testing with the promise of an additional second trimester u/s. Presented with such an option, I might go for it too! I can never see my little one too much during the pregnancy…