During your pregnancy, you will be asked to participate in a number of different tests. However, not all of them are required. It is up to the mother-to-be to decide whether she wants to partake in certain prenatal genetic testing. There are pros and cons to having these tests performed, and it is important that you learn as much as you can about them so that you can make an informed decision when your physician asks.
What is Prenatal Genetic Testing?
These are an advanced group of tests that look for genetic disorders in a child caused by abnormalities in the DNA. These can be disorders that are inherited as well as those that occur spontaneously.
It is helpful for women to know their risk factors for genetic disorders, as this may help them decide on whether the test is performed at all. Questions to ask yourself to determine whether you are at a higher risk include:
How old are you? Women over 35 are more at risk for certain chromosomal genetic disease (Down Syndrome)
Do you have a family history of genetic disease? If you have strong history for birth defects or genetic disease in your family, you may want to opt for a more extensive group of genetic tests compared to what is traditionally offered.
The Pros to Prenatal Genetic Testing
Many women want to know as early as possibly if their unborn child will have a genetic disease, life-long condition or birth defect. This ensures the mom (and dad) can go through the emotional transition and preparation before the baby is born so that there is no surprises or traumatic memories on the birthing day.
The Cons to Prenatal Genetic Testing
It is important that you realize that genetic testing during pregnancy is simply a sophisticated screening test, not an actual diagnostic test. While it is non-invasive and easy to perform, there is room for error and uncertainty because it is simply a screen. In addition, some women don’t want to know about something they cannot change, so they opt out of genetic testing.
Preparing for Prenatal Genetic Testing
Education is important. Gather information about the specific genetic diseases that are screened for before you find out the results. Your physician can help you or you may consider talking to a genetic counselor.
At North Pointe OB/GYN, we proudly offer genetic testing as part of our comprehensive prenatal care. We are also equipped to manage high risk pregnancy. If you have questions about your risk for genetic disease and whether or not you should participate in genetic testing, please give us a call.