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Saturday, February 05, 2011

What's Next?

Prenatal Testing.

It's a hot topic. It's always been a controversial topic and I'm sure always will be. Prenatal testing can give expecting parents information about the baby they are carrying. Sometimes surgeries are performed in utero because prenatal testing identified a problem. Parents can prepare for something they weren't expecting because of prenatal testing. Parents can also terminate their pregnancies because of results from prenatal testing.

Prenatal testing causes a lot of stress and anxiety. Some women stress to make the decision to even get any prenatal testing, others stress while waiting for results, and then the stress that comes with making a decision if you receive results you weren't expecting.

Right now there are screening tests for Down syndrome. A blood test combined with ultrasounds that will give your odds of having a baby with Down syndrome. They are just screening tests though and are not diagnostic tests. Then an expecting mom has to decide if she wants to follow up on the screening test with an invasive test - either CVS or amnio. Both of those tests carry a risk of miscarriage.

Now researchers have developed a blood test to detect Down syndrome earlier in pregnancies. This blood test is not a screening test, it's diagnostic and non-invasive. On the one hand I can understand a test like this being developed because it will lesson miscarriages due to CVS and amnio testing. It is non-invasive so there isn't a risk of miscarriage.

The title of the article I linked to in the paragraph above is New Down Syndrome Test Could Cut Healthy Baby Deaths. (Meaning less babies would be lost due to miscarriages from CVS or amnios.) But what it doesn't say is that more babies with Down syndrome will be terminated.

Dr Brian Skotko asks, "Will Babies With Down Syndrome Slowly Disappear?" I don't think babies with Down syndrome will disappear; there will always be those expecting moms who just refuse any prenatal testing, and those who will still not terminate. But. Current statistics show that 90% of pregnancies diagnosed with Down syndrome are terminated. If a blood test were offered in the first trimester I can only imagine how many more pregnancies will be terminated because of the earlier detection.

When will it end? Why all the research to develop prenatal tests to detect Down syndrome earlier in pregnancies? Why not spend research money on helping those with Down syndrome? Helping them live more independent lives. Why such a focus on targeting Down syndrome in pregnancies?

And what is next? What other diagnosis will researchers develop testing for?

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Sunny said...

I appreciated this post. It makes me so upset to think about all the pregnancies that are terminated due to Ds. That's one of the reasons I blog - to help show the world how beautiful and wonderful Down syndrome can be.

Bailey's Leaf said...

My husband and I chose not to do any type of prenatal screening other than an ultrasound. I work with someone who openly admittedly that she had the testing done and would unapologetically have an abortion of the child showed any type of possible irregularity. I worked with another woman who was given a high probability of having a child with Ds (after screening), didn't abort and the child didn't have Ds at all.

Screening isn't a 100% guarantee. People need to remember that. If it is accurate, does that mean that we need to be throwing kids in the garbage? Uh, no.

Kim-Stuff could be worse said...

I agree with this post, where does the line stop?? I live a great life with a challenge

Leah said...

Kudos to you for posting this! I agree 110%! I have 10 weeks to go with pregnancy #2...no testing here! All that matters is she's ours. :)

Nicole said...

I love this post. I am "pro-prenatal testing" for the reason of preparation. But generally speaking, I don't like abortion - PARTICULARLY now that I'm the mother of a child with a genetic disease who the doctors suggested that I terminate. It's such a strange conundrum that greater knowledge (a good thing in my opinion) could and probably would lead to more abortions (a bad thing, in my opinion).

I am glad though that we found out about my daughter's medical issues when I was still pregnant because I already knew that NICU was a definite, I knew I would be probably leaving the hospital without her, I knew that breastfeeding would probably be out... For me, the benefits of prenatal testing were great - it gave me a chance to prepare for her differences too. When she arrived, we could hit the ground running :)

Anonymous said...

Great post....it is murder pure and simple....anyone that can purposefully stop a heartbeat...just killed that being...that little tiny baby. It's wrong!!!


kcolquitt said...

it's ironic that this so-called "pro choice" movement strips choice from the most precious and weak. and the people who tout "tolerance are the most intolerant of all. and it won't stop. with genetic engineering, my fear is babies will be terminated in the future for eye color, hair color, IQ, and so fourth. in holland, it is legal to "terminate" until the age of 12. TWELVE YEARS. horrific.

Laura said...

And I have tears. This is such a beautiful and eloquent post. Thank you for sharing this information. I have always opted out of any prenatal testing in my 4 pregnancies because I always said "it wouldn't change anything." - if we had learned there were anything outside of a typical child growing in there. I had had friends go through the tests and be so incredibly stressed no matter what the results were or were not. I was grateful to give myself that peace, knowing that if there was a bridge for us to cross, we would do that when we got to it.

This changed the time we knew there was something going awry with our last little treasure - it was his duodenal atresia causing me to produce and carry an extraordinary amount of amniotic fluid. It was through this diagnosis at 32 weeks that we learned of his DS - and it is something I wouldn't change for the world. With his presence in my life and in my heart, I have said I would have a hundred more children just to bask in more of this beauty. Yes, he is different. But that difference is so beautiful - and so very, very good.

Thank you for posting your article, and thank you for blogging. So many of us mamas with designer babies have this fierce desire to show the world there is no need for that fear and unwanting of children with DS. My dream is to abolish that fear, or at least reduce it as much as I can. I am so excited to see there are so many more that are doing just that, as well.

Those big blueberry eyes are breathtaking. Full of magic. My brown eyes are full of tears, knowing how much love we as mamas feel when we get to glimpse into a soul through those beautiful, soul-quenching eyes.

Big love to you, fellow mama. Big, big love.