Friday, January 14, 2011

Genetic Testing

Back when Neal and I were in utero, sonograms and ultrasounds weren’t readily available to just everyone. We were right on the cusp of this new technology, kind of like what 3D TV’s are now days. Not everyone has them, but we’ll all probably own one in our lifetime.

Now, not only are there 3D ultrasounds, there are all kinds of genetic testing that can be done with a blood test or a simple swab of the mouth. They tell you the specific likelihood of having a Down Syndrome baby, a baby with Cystic Fibrosis, amongst other things. And then there is the option of amniocentesis, which has a higher chance of resulting in a miscarriage. These tests are considered “optional” and a lot of health insurance companies won’t necessarily cover them.

These are tests we never even knew were available and they were put on the table at our first OB appointment. We have gone back and forth on whether or not to take part in the tests but our doctor and others like to throw different options at us. Here are a few takes on it…

-         Say we find out that we have a 99.9% chance of a having a child with Down Syndrome or Cystic Fibrosis. Ok. What would we do?
1.      After watching our 9 week old baby wave and kick in the first ultrasound, there is not a chance in this world that we would choose to abort this life. So, no, we will not take the tests, because it would just cause undue stress and worry in the pregnancy.

But there’s always another side…

2.      Say we do find out that we’re expecting a child with a detectible disability. We have time to prepare and research treatments and doctors equipped at dealing with cases like this from the very moment our baby enters the world. Being a planner by nature, there are some good points there to consider.
3.      OR, we take the tests and they come back negative and there’s a much needed sigh of relief.

It’s like trying to figure out if we’ll choose to know the sex of our baby. We waiver on it daily. But for this instance, my heart tells me that God’s WILL will be done, regardless. I’ve researched and there’s a lot of “false positives” on these tests. I want to enjoy my first pregnancy. In just 12 weeks of pregnancy I’ve learned that you worry about things during pregnancy anyways, so I don’t need another thing weighing on me.

But in any case, for you mothers out there, do you have any thoughts or suggestions on the topic? Please share them with me if you do!



  1. I think you always have to do what you feel right for you and your baby. I didn't do tests either pregnancy because I felt like you stated it wasn't going to change anything about the pregnancy. I wanted to enjoy it go with the plan God had laid out.

    On another note, I have personally known two people that have gotten false positives on the down syndrome test which caused A LOT of unneeded stress.

  2. We, like you and Neal, felt it unnecessary to do genetic testing because we were going to keep the baby no matter what. The thought of doing the testing stressed me out enough so the fact that the early tests just give a risk factor (and not a true yes or no) would have been too much for me to bear. I wanted to enjoy my pregnancy, and we decided to deal with whatever came our way (we would have to anyways, we had no clue how to be parents in the first place!).

    The only time I second-guessed myself was towards the end of my pregnancy when we had problems and I was concerned about genetic issues that were related to the problems going on (the internet is a scary place!). Nothing genetic had been picked up on the ultrasounds so aside from what we were dealing with there were no other problems that we knew of. So I let it go that we never did the testing.

    The big thing that pregnancy taught me was that you can try to be the most prepared person, but you are never in control. Only God is!

  3. I never did the genetic testing because I knew no matter what, I was going to keep my child. Sure, they say that they want to prepare parents, but in my opinion, it opens the door to choosing abortions. They do the testing before 20-something weeks (I think) because that's the latest you can get an abortion in most places. I'm not trying to sound crazy, I swear.
    I also had a friend who swore against medical intervention, but for some reason was okay in finding out if her child was going to have a disability. Well, they had a false positive because the age of the baby was younger than they first believed. So that really spooked her. Everything was fine with the baby, though.
    My morality hang-up aside, I heard the final test (amniocentesis - where they poke a giant A needle into your stomach) is very painful and can cause bring harm to the baby. Uh, why would you willingly do that?!
    I just don't think it's worth the stress. Pregnancy is already hella crazy on both parents and the added worry is just not worth it. Trust God to take care of you and your little one. He's given you that life for a reason and your baby is a miracle no matter what!