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Pregnancy Screening FAQ



Frequently Asked Questions about Pregnancy Screening

Collection maintained by: Lynn Gazis-Sax (gazissax@netcom.com)

To contribute to this collection, please send e-mail to the address given above, and ask me to add your comments to the FAQ file on Pre-Pregnancy and Pregnancy Tests. Please try to be as concise as possible, as these FAQ files tend to be quite long as it is. And, unless otherwise requested, your name and e-mail address will remain in the file, so that interested readers may follow-up directly for more information/discussion.

For a list of other FAQ topics, ftp to the pub/usenet/misc-kids directory of rtfm.mit.edu or tune in to misc.kids.info.

Copyright 1995, Lynn Gazis-Sax. Use and copying of this information are permitted as long as (1) no fees or compensation are charged for use, copies or access to this information, and (2) this copyright notice is included intact.

[NOTE: this is information collected from many sources and while I have strived to be accurate and complete, I cannot guarantee that I have succeeded. This is not medical advice. For that, see your doctor or other health care provider.]

Part I: General Questions

-1. What prenatal tests are available?
Blood testing: screening for carriers of various disabilities (...
-1a. Why are certain tests suggested for a specific sub-population, eg Tay-sachs for European Jews; toxoplasmosis for cat-owners; Downs for over-35 y.o.
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-1b. Is there a certain time sequence that the tests should be done wrt conception and pregnancy?
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-1c. What are some further sources of information about prenatal tests?
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-2a. What disabilities can be detected by these tests?
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-2b. What disabilities can not be detected by any currently available prenatal test?
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-2c. For which disabilities can early detection help with pre-natal care and delivery?
In most cases, prenatal treatment is not available, and prenatal ...
-2d. What are some sources of more information about the disabilities which these tests detect?
There are many organizations which can provide more information, support, ...
-3. How have people decided whether the tests are worthwhile for them?
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-4. Are there benefits for people who would not abort, and, if so, are they large enough to be worth doing the test?
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-5. If you got bad news on a prenatal test, how did you respond? How did you go about deciding what to do about these results?
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-6. Any people who have had children (siblings, etc.) with some of the defects screened for who would like to share their experiences?
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-7. Any people who have one of the disabilities in question who would like to share their experiences?
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-8. Any other personal experiences which would be helpful to people considering prenatal testing for disabilities?
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-9. How have people decided whether or not they wished to be told the sex?
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Part II: Pre-Pregnancy and Pregnancy Tests

-1. What screening tests can be done prior to pregnancy and when should they be done? What diseases should be tested for prior to pregnancy?
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-1c. What about screening for venereal disease?
See above. There are also some net resources for further ...
-2. What is HCG and what is its significance in pregnancy testing? How early can a pregnancy test be done? How likely is a false negative in an early pregnancy test? What over the counter pregnancy tests are most accurate?
From Robbrenner@aol.com (Robert Brenner MD)...
-2d. My HCG level is not rising as quickly as it is supposed to? What is the normal range, and how worried should I be?
From Robbrenner@aol.com (Robert Brenner MD)...

Part III: AFP Screen and the Triple Screen

-1. What are the screens?
1. This FAQ covers questions about two similar tests that are available ...
-2.a What is apha-fetoprotein?
2.a AFP is a protein produced by every fetus. The baby urinates it into ...
-2.b Why is the age of the fetus important?
2.b The normal ranges of AFP and the hormones of the triple screen ...
-2.c. What are the neural tube defects and their severity?
2.c The two main defects are spina bifida (open spine) and anencephaly....
-2.d What are my chances of having a baby with a neural tube defect?
2.d In the US, about 1,600 to 2,000 babies are born with spina bifida ...
-2.e What about Folic Acid?
2.e Folic acid (or folacin) is a vitamin found in green vegetables, ...
-2.f Will this test detect all cases of neural tube defects?
2.f No. The screening process will detect 80% of the cases of spina ...
-3.a What is Down's syndrome?
3.a This chromosomal disorder is characterized by varying degrees of ...
-3.b Will this test detect all cases of Down's?
No. 25% of the cases of Down's will result in abnormal AFP, while 60% ...
-4.a Will this test guarantee a normal baby?
No. Most defects are not detected by this or any other test. However a ...
-4.b How are the results presented?
The results may be presented in a number of ways. It is important ...
-5.a What should I do if the values are abnormal?
Your caregiver should recommend an ultrasound to get a more accurate ...
-5.b If my ultrasound is normal, does that guarantee a normal baby?
5.b No. The ultrasound exam, however. will identify the majority of ...
-6.a What are the benefits of the test?
It can help you make decisions about your pregnancy. If the results ...
-6.b What are the risks of the test?
An abnormal result may cause considerable worry and concern. Since ...
-6.c Should I have the screen?
No one can answer that but you. Making a decision means learning as much ...
-7. Further Resources:
If your caregiver does not provide detailed description of what the test ...
-8. Some stories from women on misc.kids who have had the screen
We had the AFP. Our luck, it signaled 60-1 chance of Downs. We did not ...
-8. Some stories from women on misc.kids who have had the screen
We had the AFP. Our luck, it signaled 60-1 chance of Downs. We did not ...
-8. Here's another screening horror story with a happy ending.
I wasn't sure whether I wanted to have the AFP test. I had read the FAQ ...
-8. Some stories from women on misc.kids who have had the screen
We had the AFP. Our luck, it signaled 60-1 chance of Downs. We did not ...
-8. Some stories from women on misc.kids who have had the screen
We had the AFP. Our luck, it signaled 60-1 chance of Downs. We did not ...

Part IV: Ultrasound

-1. What are the different kinds of ultrasound and what can they detect?
Ultrasound is high frequency sound waves which are used to visualize ...
-2. What can ultrasound not detect?
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-3. How accurate is ultrasound, and what are possible sources of error?
The accuracy of ultrasound for dating a pregnancy depends on at what ...
-4. What are the risks of ultrasound?
This question turns out to be controversial. Some of the books which ...
-4.1 on Ultrasound Safety
Here are a list of references from the medical literature on human ...
-5. Do you really have to have a full bladder for an ultrasound?
Women getting an ultrasound are encouraged to drink several glasses of ...

Part V: Amniocentesis

-1. What is amniocentesis?
Amniocentesis, or amnio, is a prenatal test in which a needle is ...
-2. What can amniocentesis detect?
One of the main uses of amniocentesis is to detect ...
-3. What can an amniocentesis not detect?
Amniocentesis will not guarantee you a normal child. It cannot ...
-4. What are the risks of amnio?
The main risk of amnio is that it may increase the chance of miscarriage. ...
-5. What kinds of error are possible in amnio?
Amniocentesis is generally accurate. The most common error is a ...
-6. Under what circumstances is amnio usually given?
Amniocentesis is recommended when the risk of a disability ...
-7. How early can an amnio be done?
Amniocentesis is most commonly done between the sixteenth ...
-8. What about chorionic villus sampling (CVS) as an alternative to amnio?
Chorionic villus sampling is an early surgical test in which part of ...









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