When I was 17 weeks pregnant, my doctor asked if I would like to have a blood test done to screen for possible neural tube defects and chromosomal abnormalities like spina bifida and Down’s Syndrome. Since my husband and I had talked about screenings prior to pregnancy, we decided to go ahead with it. Some parents decide not to get these screenings but we felt that if our baby was to have a birth defect, we would like to better prepare ourselves for any challenges we might face as our child grew. We didn’t expect any abnormalities with a test like this so we went ahead with it; it just felt like a normal blood test that I had at my other prenatal appointments.
About two days later, my doctor called and said, “Hi Dani, we got your results back from that AFP screen we did, and we got a positive result for spina bifida. The results are very low…” I didn’t hear the rest of what he said at that point. I felt sick and so scared. Thankfully, I had such an amazing and understanding doctor that he asked me to come in that next morning. He knew I would want to go over the results of the test to find out what was going on with our baby. I went in the next morning for an ultrasound to see our precious little girl and fortunately, upon further examination, the ultrasound showed no abnormalities with our daughter’s spine. My doctor sent us to a specialist just to get another look. The specialist offered to do an amniocentesis, but we declined. The ultrasound had put our mind at ease, and we didn’t feel that any more testing was needed.
After this scare, I did some research and found that these tests produce a very high false positive rate. In an article done by Parents Magazine, they revealed that “About 3 to 5 percent of women who have the multiple marker test will have an abnormal reading, but only about 10 percent of those women will have a child with a genetic problem.” I found that a lot of doctors are not offering these tests anymore and that some insurance companies don’t cover them.
Some parents feel that knowing about any conditions their child may have will help them be better prepared to care for their child. Others choose not to have prenatal screenings based on their personal beliefs or religious beliefs. If you choose to do prenatal screening, research any tests and screens that your doctor offers.
Helpful Sites I Found in My Research