Prenatal Testing : Dos & Don'ts

Hello! First-time poster and first-time parent here! I am 8 weeks (and 5 days pregnant) :smiling_face_with_three_hearts: I have my first ultrasound coming up and I was looking for advice on what I should be on the lookout for. I was asked if I want to do genetic testing - Sequential screen specifically- and said that I wasn’t sure. I know that amniocentesis is bad, and won’t be doing any invasive testing on the baby. However, this sequential screen is apparently just part of my arm blood draw. Should I say no or is it better to know? I want to make sure that I am making the best pro-life and Catholic decisions for my baby. Thank you for your help! Please feel free to send prayers my way!

I was at very high risk, I decided I would keep my baby in case of a disease but I wanted to know in advance to prepare in the best way. I said no to amniocentesis or villocentesis because there was a risk of miscarriage (according to my gynecologist) but I was approved for a blood test to screen for the most common genetic abnormalities and for sonograms done pretty regularly.

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My children’s mother had bad preeclampsia and prior to doing an emergency C-section, the doctors did an amniocentesis to make sure Andrea’s lungs were ready. I assume that that was ethical since the purpose of doing it was to make sure that she would survive outside the womb and to mitigate the risk for my children’s mom… Right?

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Yes, of course.

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This type of testing is up to personal preference. If you want to be able to prepare, you can get the testing (recognizing that it is not 100% accurate). If you feel that it will cause unnecessary anxiety, you can turn it down. There’s no universal answer.

I did what was offered with my oldest. With my more recent pregnancies, I’ve been on medications that increase false positives so I turned it down.

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Congratulations! Best wishes for your pregnancy.

I had cell-free DNA screening with my last (current) pregnancy. It’s a noninvasive screening test, and a fairly accurate one, and I wanted to know beforehand if there was some genetic anomaly with the baby. Various genetic problems come with increased risks for different problems (i.e. heart defects), so for me having some idea of these risks seemed wise. Also, if my kid wound up having Trisomy 13 or something, I’d want to seek out support groups and resources BEFORE dealing with a newborn baby.

However, as others have posted, realize that any screening test is NOT a diagnostic test, meaning that false positives and negatives can occur. Get your doctor to explain to you exactly what the results mean if you choose to have the screening done.

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Congrats.

It’s up to you. If you like to be prepared and are able to resist pressure to abort if something is found I think it would be an amazing pro life witness to find out and give birth if something is found.

However I have heard of women being put under a lot of pressure to abort if something is found and it is a very vunerable time, so even if you normally would be able to resist pressure, you may find it a lot harder than you think.

Why do you want to know?

What would you do if you have a positive results?

How it would affects you and your spouse?

If you want a definitive result, amiocentesis is probably the only sure way to know. isn’t it?

Congratulations!
Assuming you are young, healthy, and don’t have any genetic concerns on either side of the families; I’d forego all the ‘extra’ tests. But it’s a personal issue - not a Catholic issue. They also ‘offer’ a million more tests today than they did even 10 years ago because the shift has changed to ‘sell’ more lab work and tests for more income. The past 6-7 years especially. They will do all the necessary tests to make sure the baby is healthy - those won’t really even be optional. As others said - it’s just a personal choice. And pondering ‘why’ you want all the tests done and what you would do with that information is probably the best way to look at it.

Knowing can be a good thing in the sense that you have time to do your homework so you can be the best parents possible to the little one. (Congrats!, btw!) My daughter was diagnosed in utero with spina bifida. The SFP test came back slightly elevated…we went for the level 2 ultrasound, etc. etc. i’m glad we knew because we lined up the specialists, did our homework. They did a C-section and that prevented some damage to her spine. You know, of course, that testing to see if there’s anything wrong so you’d have an abortion…is wrong. Good luck to you!

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You would want to know for two reasons, both of which are outlined in the post by @lwest:

  1. Identifying a problem means that you can get early care for the child (lwest’s daughter was born by cesarean, avoiding damage to her spine).

  2. You can better prepare for the child’s needs if you know what they are beforehand. When you’ve given birth, you’re generally quite tired and you’re thrown into the crazy routine of taking care of a newborn; it’s much better to look up the medical services and support groups you’ll need while you’re still pregnant.

That said, you wouldn’t at all be wrong to forego tests. I didn’t get my first three screened because I was under 35 and therefore had a lower risk of genetic anomalies; with my last, I called my insurance company to be sure they covered the screening. This really is up to you, and if you feel that a positive result would cause you (possibly baseless) anxiety, you can certainly decide not to get any screening done.

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I would add.

It depends also if both the father and you have the same opinion toward what to do if any test is getting “wrong”. If there is disagreement, it may be better to not do them than to go into a fight while pregnant.

To test can also cause some anxiety in some women.

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