According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
nearly 1 in 33 babies in the U.S. is born with a birth defect each year. Prenatal
screening methods such as noninvasive prenatal genetic testing can help
determine if there is a high or low risk that the fetus has a chromosomal
abnormality. There are also many other significant benefits that prenatal
screening can offer expecting parents.
About Your Pregnancy
For women seeking as much information as possible about
their unborn child, prenatal screening can provide them the answers they need
in order to make more informed decisions about their prenatal care.
It is important to understand that prenatal screening is not
a diagnostic test. The results of a prenatal screening analyze the risk for a
chromosomal abnormality or a physical abnormality. If a noninvasive
prenatal screening reveals a high risk for genetic disorders, it is
typically recommended that a diagnostic test follows.
More Time to Prepare
With an early diagnosis, expecting parents have more time to
inform themselves and learn more about their child’s condition. This allows
couples to understand what their child will need in order to remain healthy as
well as to live a fulfilling life. More time also allows couples to seek
emotional support if the likelihood of a condition exists. Support groups can
provide a safe environment to discuss anxieties as well as ask any questions.
Care at Childbirth
Some birth defects or chromosomal abnormalities may require
immediate attention once the child is born. Knowing what to expect will allow expecting
parents to arrange to give birth at a facility that best fits the needs of the
child. If necessary, they will also be able to arrange to have a specialist
present at the time of birth in order to address any immediate concerns.
Information Relevant to Future Pregnancies
Prenatal screening results provide information about a
current pregnancy. However, these results can also be useful when planning
future pregnancies. For example, women who have previously given birth to a child
diagnosed with trisomy 21 (Down syndrome) generally have an increased chance (roughly
one percent higher than the typical risk) of the following pregnancies
also presenting trisomy 21. If you have previously received a diagnosis of
trisomy 21 during a pregnancy, share this information with your doctor when
attending your next preconception visit. The more thoroughly you keep your
doctor informed about yours and your family’s medical history, the better your
doctor can help you in planning your pregnancies.
Learn More About
Speak with a genetic counselor or your doctor to learn more
about prenatal screening. These healthcare professionals will explain who
should consider prenatal screening based on age, current health, family history
and many other factors. They will also help you understand your options for
prenatal screening as well as thoroughly explain all test results. Speak to
your healthcare professionals to learn more during your preconception visits.