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Is prenatal screening right for me?

Many women have a difficult time deciding whether or not to have a prenatal screening test.

Remember, it is your choice whether or not to have prenatal screening.

Here are some things to think about that might help you make your decision and maybe discuss with your partner, health care provider, family or friends.

1. Do you want to know the chance of your baby having Down syndrome, trisomy 18 or open neural tube defect?

  • There is no cure for Down syndrome, trisomy 18 or open neural tube defect.
  • If your baby has one of these conditions, your health care provider may suggest additional tests and/or change in the way your baby is delivered.
  • Some people have screening because they would like the information before birth, or would like to prepare for a child with special needs.
  • Some people have screening because they would consider giving the baby up for adoption if their baby was found to have one of these conditions.
  • Some people have screening because they would have an abortion if their baby was found to have one of these conditions.

2. How will this information affect your feelings throughout your pregnancy?

  • Many women worry if their test results say that the chance of having a baby with one of these conditions is higher than expected (called screen positive).

3. If your screening test result is higher than a specific number (the cut-off for your centre) it is called a screen positive.  You will need to decide if you want diagnostic testing to find out for sure if your baby has Down syndrome, trisomy 18 or open neural tube defect.

4. Diagnostic testing will tell for sure if your baby has one of these conditions, but has a small chance of miscarriage. Are you willing to take that risk?

5. If diagnostic testing shows your baby does have one of the conditions, what will you do with the information? You will need to decide if you want to continue the pregnancy or have an abortion.

6. If you find out for sure that your baby has a condition like Down syndrome, you can plan for the birth of your child and find out from others what it is like to raise a child with this condition. Would this information be helpful to you before birth? Remember, to know for sure you have to have a diagnostic test which has a small chance of miscarriage.

7. If you have a child with mental and/or physical disabilities, how might this affect your life, your other children, your relationship with your partner and your extended family?