I wanted to make a post about prenatal testing. I always feel frustrated when I see so many misconceptions about prenatal testing. Here are just a few I would like to address:
- "I would never get the prenatal tests because I would keep my baby either way." - This implies that the only reason to get prenatal testing is because you would consider ending the pregnancy. This may be one reason, but I think most people just want to know whatever they can about their baby in advance. Just think about how many people find out the gender before the baby is born now. I also think most people, myself included, took the test just assuming it was more like a check box in their pregnancy. I always thought "why not?" and didn't think I would get a phone call saying my baby was at higher risk. I do see benefits to knowing now rather than at birth. I'm a planner and I've done tons of reading and research. I feel like I'm now able to enjoy my pregnancy without any doubts about whether she has T21 or not looming over my head. I'm also considering switching to a hospital with a higher level NICU, but that all depends on if we see anything at our fetal echocardiogram tomorrow.
- "There are too many false positives with those tests." - I'm blaming this one on doctors and nurses actually, but the screening tests should not be told as a "positive" or "negative" result. They are "normal" or "abnormal" and have a risk factor. I was told a 1:93 chance of having a baby with T21. My daughter was the 1, but about 92 other women would get the same result and their child would probably not have T21. That's how statistics work.
- "You shouldn't worry if your baby has Down Syndrome because all people with Down Syndrome are always happy and healthy." - This one is a misconception for two reasons. First, T21 is a condition that includes a higher likelihood for health issues including heart problems, bowel obstructions, hearing/sight impairment, among other problems. Not every person with T21 is completely healthy, but most health issues are easily fixed with surgery or treatment. That being said, not every baby is born healthy either, but I do still worry that Ada will have a heart problem. Mainly because I don't want my newborn to go through surgery and I'm pretty sure no one would. There are health risks with any person or child. No one is completely healthy all the time, but it's natural for a parent to be concerned about their child's health. Also, these screening test also check for risk factors associated with Trisomy 18 and Trisomy 13, which commonly have major health issues associated with the condition. The other reason this statement is wrong is because people with Down Syndrome have the same array of emotions as any 'typical' person. They can be happy, sad, angry, excited, frustrated, and any of these emotions.
That is why you shouldn't worry about having a child with Down Syndrome, but, of course, you're going to worry whether your child has a genetic condition or not because it's one thing a mom is pretty good at.