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6.c Should I have the screen?


This article is from the Pregnancy Screening FAQ, by Lynn Gazis-Sax (gazissax@netcom.com) with numerous contributions by others.

6.c Should I have the screen?

No one can answer that but you. Making a decision means learning as much as
possible about the possible outcomes, and thinking about what you would do
in each case. Then ask: Will the results of the test (positive or negative)
change what you plan to do? If not, then there is no reason to have the
test and risk the anxiety that an abnormal result would bring.

I can tell you why I chose to take the test, and why my sister chose not to
have the test. Now these are only two of many stories. And I had a
reassuring result on the triple screen, (but no baby yet to confirm) and my
sister has two healthy babies. Perhaps our answers would be different in
hindsight if the situations were different. I am sure that many other women
have different reasons for electing or not electing the test.

I read everything I could about the test, including the two brochures my
midwives gave me. My husband and I discussed what we might do in case of
scary results. Given our personal views and our stages in life, we would be
willing to opt for the amnio, and potentially termination if the results
were very extreme. Extreme for us is probably something that is
incompatible with life. And if results were bad but not extreme, we would
find it helpful to know something in advance. We are planning a homebirth,
so knowing that there were problems with the child in advance, we would
change our minds and deliver in a hospital with a good neonatal unit. I
also think that the extra months of research and gathering of support
before birth would make it easier for me, my husband and our marriage to
prepare for a handicapped child. I am not yet old enough, nor are there any
familial factors, to be in a high risk category otherwise, so would not be
doing genetic testing unless the screen indicated a potential problem. So
we saw the test as useful information.

Plus, the midwives have been very clear about the nature of the test, and
assured me that a bad result should not be considered alarming. I trust
that if we had gotten bad news, we would have been given timely and helpful
information and referrals to specialists. I think that would help to
alleviate the inevitable anxiety of any possible result. My sister and her
husband have very different views. They would never consider termination
for any reason. So an abnormal result could mean months of anxiety, since
they would not consider the risks of the amnio to be worth it. Countering
my reason about knowing in advance and being able to get some information
and support before a baby with a defect is born, she would argue that since
it cannot tell you *how* bad the defect might be, it is still not worth the


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