Every parent waits with nervous anticipation to see if his or her child will be born healthy. Today, with the advent of advanced prenatal diagnosis and testing, the wait in many cases, is over. Genetic screening now allows parents to find out before birth if their child will have certain genetic disorders.
Testing is comprised of two common tests, Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS) which is performed at 11 to 12 weeks gestation, or amniocentesis performed at 15 to 19 weeks, screens for a wide range of diseases and disorders. The CVS procedure involves testing the cells from the maturing placentas. Taking a sample of the amniotic fluid that surrounds the baby and testing it is what happens with the amniocentesis procedure.
The decision to have these test is not straightforward, although the testing process is fairly clear-cut. For many, there are many pros and cons that must be weighed before making a decision. Here are a few of the most common pros and cons of prenatal screening:
• Having foreknowledge of any problems can allow parents to prepare for caring for the child.
• Advanced early knowledge may lead the parent to terminate the pregnancy. should they choose.
• In case any emergency treatment should be needed, parents would be at an advantage by having advanced knowledge of certain disorders.
• Knowledge of any disorders prior to birth can give parents time to find specialists.
• Genetic testing may identify a problem that can be rectified before birth.
• Testing may be an advantage in that doctors may choose a delivery method that minimizes risk to the mother and infant.
• CVS and amniocentesis carry some risk of miscarriage.
• Testing is not as precise as many parents believe them to be. Even for the problems that have been specifically tested, there is no guarantee that they don't exist.
• Tests may indicate a problem where none exist or may not detect a problem, giving false security.
• Not all diseases or disorders are covered by testing. Many diseases have numerous complex forms that cannot all be covered in a generalized test.
• The tests raise issues with limited and uncertain safeguards against insurance discrimination.
Although prenatal diagnosis and testing is routine, it is an issue that is s tricky and is a matter of debate among many members of the disability community and parents alike. It involves deeply felt beliefs toward abortion, the beginning of life, faith, fate, disability, social responsibility and quality of life issues. The decision it ultimately up to the parents even though the decision to test or not to test is not an easy one to make.