Making A Decision About Prenatal Testing

Is a screening test right for you?

  • Would you like more information than just your age-related chance of having a baby with a genetic birth defect like Down syndrome?
  • Are you comfortable knowing that screening tests cannot detect all birth defects and can miss finding some babies with certain genetic birth defects?
  • Do you understand that if you have a positive screening test, the only way to know for sure if your baby has certain birth defects is to have a diagnostic test like CVS or amniocentesis?
  • Although most women with positive screening test results have normal babies, a positive result may still cause you anxiety.

Is a diagnostic test right for you?

  • Do you need reassurance that your baby does not have specific genetic birth defects?
  • Are you willing to accept a small chance of miscarriage to get this information?
  • Would knowing that your baby has certain genetic birth defects help you prepare for a child with special needs?
  • Would you consider ending the pregnancy if your baby has a birth defect?

Is not having any of these tests right for you?

  • Would you rather wait until your baby is born to find out if he or she has a chromosome condition or spina bifida?
  • It can be helpful for you and your physician to know if your baby has a birth defect before you deliver. Your physician may need to change your prenatal care plan or even change where or how your baby will be delivered.
  • During your pregnancy your doctor will order ultrasound examinations that also check for certain birth defects that can affect the baby’s growth or development. Ultrasound cannot check for all birth defects and mental retardation.