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August 17, 2011

Opting out of Early Pre-Natal Testing

The husband and I opted out of the Early Pre-natal testing without doing much research before making the decision. At our 10 week appointment, our OB asked if we wanted to do the Nuchal Translucency Test at 12 weeks.

According to BabyCenter, "The NT test uses ultrasound to measure the clear (translucent) space in the tissue at the back of your developing baby's neck. Babies with abnormalities tend to accumulate more fluid at the back of their neck during the first trimester, causing this clear space to be larger than average.

The NT scan must be done when you're between 11 and 14 weeks pregnant. (The last day you can have it done is the day you turn 13 weeks and 6 days pregnant.) It's usually offered along with a blood test in what's known as first-trimester combined screening.

Like other screening tests, an NT scan won't give you a diagnosis. But it can assess your baby's risk for certain problems and help you decide whether you want to have chorionic villus sampling (CVS) or amniocentesis to find out whether your baby is actually affected.

Basically, what our OB said was that currently due to my age, I'm at a 1 out of 200 chance of having a child with Down Syndrome. This NT test will either say my chances increase or decrease, however the test won't always catch Down's and even if it increases your risk, that doesn't necessarily mean you will have a child with Down's either.

If we detected that my chances rose and the NT test said I was now, let's say 1 out of 60 - we could opt to do an amniocentesis which our OB said had a 1 out of 150 chance of causing miscarriage.

At the time, we opted out of this testing b/c it was so not certain and we decided it may just cause undue stress.

At our last appointment, which was 14 weeks, the OB offered another test which we could do at 16 weeks which would be the Multiple Marker Screening. This tests for chromosomal abnormalities. But again, it only assesses the risks and only an amnio could give you a sure answer.

Since our OB assured us that at our 20 week appointment, we'd have a thorough ultrasound to detect for any abnormalities and at that time, we'd have a more confident assessment and could still do an amnio later in the game - we decided to wait.

This has been good and bad. While we don't have the undue stress of false results - I worry. But then again, I'd worry regardless since these tests also can miss things. So alas, our 20 week appointment with the ultrasound tech is getting closer and I'm doing my best to keep my stress at bay.

Regardless of how you go about it, to do the early testing or not, i think some degree of worry is involved. I've heard of amnios going right and amnios going wrong. I know that hindsight is 20/20 and the stress of wondering if you are making the right decision also comes into play.

But we did what we thought was best for our stress levels and our baby at the present time. We can only hope that our baby comes out perfectly healthy, but regardless ... however s/he comes into the world - s/he will be our "perfect" baby; imperfections included!!

Did you opt in or out for Early Pre-Natal Testing? If you aren't there yet, what do you think you'd do? While its such a personal decision, hearing other's experiences always gives me more insight into the situation, so i'd love to read about yours :)


  1. I know this is a tough decision for parents-to-be, and it sounds like you made an informed personal choice. Thanks for sharing all these details. Reading your blog and others will make my own journey so much easier when it's time.

  2. We didn't do the NT ultrasound b/c it's not definitive and the outcome wouldn't have changed how we proceeded with the pregnancy. We did do the AFP blood test b/c that was one the doctor recommended. Fortunately that came back okay. Like you I figured any issues would be found at the 20 week ultrasound so no point going through a bunch of additional testing. I'm sure your baby will be totally healthy.

  3. I did the tests. I am a scientist, so more data=better :) And Matt is a doctor, and was working at the hospital where we had the tests done. I was using the Einstein OB practice, where all the OBs were affiliated with the hospital, and you had all your scans done by their in-house maternal-fetal medicine specialist. Who is awesome. So I was very confident in the utilization and interpretation of the tests. Plus they are completely non-invasive in that there is nothing beyond what you are already having done (blood tests and ultrasounds). I did have to PAY for the tests, because they weren't strictly necessary, but Matt's medical plan was very generous, so I didn't quibble over the odd expense here and there. Being 29, I figured the risk of chromosomal abnormality was increasing, but not high enough to justify routine amnio, and the risk of amnio is always high. The risks from these tests are basically zero, and helped me know that I didn't need to have an amnio. I wouldn't have these tests if you are anti-choice, because they wouldn't provide any information you could do anything with, except to prepare yourself to receive a handicapped child before it arrives.

  4. We opted out of all the testing because it wouldn't have changed anything having to do with the pregnancy. We felt that approach was best with Chase and with Lucas... and we'll do the same when baby #3 comes along ;~)


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