You’re Pregnant. How Do You Decide About Prenatal Testing?

You’re Pregnant. How Do You Decide About Prenatal Testing? July 17, 2013

“It’s noninvasive,” my doctor said. “It just offers you some information about your baby.”

I was 28-years-old, pregnant for the first time, and we were discussing prenatal testing. A simple noninvasive blood test sounded good to me, so I stuck out my arm. I didn’t think about the test again.

A week or two later, my doctor called. She sounded almost accusatory about trying to track me down. As it turned out, the prenatal test run on my blood sample showed an increased chance that I was carrying a baby with trisomy 21, commonly known as Down syndrome. Only then did I begin to ask some of the questions I wish I had considered when I agreed to the tests in the first place: Exactly what information would these tests provide? Why would I want it? What would I do in response to whatever I learned? I had treated the decision to accept prenatal genetic testing as an inconsequential matter that required minimal discomfort and no risk to my health. But I now realized that my initial decision could lead to a series of life-changing ethical, emotional, and spiritual choices that I wasn’t prepared to make.

Nearly eight years have passed since my first experience with prenatal testing. Now, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that all pregnant women, regardless of age or other risk factors, be offered prenatal genetic testing. In other words, each pregnant woman will likely face a decision about whether to stick out her arm for a blood draw, and women need better preparation for the questions and choices those tests might provoke.

Continue reading You’re Pregnant. How Do You Decide About Prenatal Testing on The Huffington Post Parents

Photo credit Phil Dutton

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