This article is from the Pregnancy Screening FAQ, by Lynn Gazis-Sax (email@example.com) with numerous contributions by others.
We had the AFP. Our luck, it signaled 60-1 chance of Downs. We did not know
what to do. Our doctors pushed, rather heavily persuaded us, to take the
amnio. The procedure was ok, the two week wait was a nightmare. The stress
was unbelievable. All said and done things turned out ok. However, my wife
was only 30, me only 33, the test was not necessary, yet we felt a bit
coerced into it by the doctor and that nice little State issued AFP program
pamphlet. The stress and total upheaval it caused was undescribeable. Our
life was on literal hold for two weeks +! Not only that, we did not even
delve into the options.
This has been a tough time. I lost both parents young but never thought I
would have to suffer such stress. Moral of the story: Unless you are over
thirty five or have some other risk, seriously consider the value of the
test which, fortunately comes out with false positives more often than not.
The final result, everthing ok, however, it changed my life. I respect my
wife, life, and all that is around me more than ever.
Christian in California firstname.lastname@example.org
I am 29 years old, and I am currently 21 weeks pregnant with our second
child. Noah, our first child, died during my pregnancy (at 26 weeks) of
Prune Belly Syndrome, an anomoly which afflicts only one in 40,000 births.
I had the AFP test done at 15 weeks with our son, Noah, and it showed
nothing. I thought that it meant we would have a healthy baby. Then I had
the triple screen done at 15 weeks in this pregnancy, and it came back
showing I had an increased risk (1/44) for the baby to have Downs Syndrome.
Considering those odds, natrually, we were devastated. Not certain that we
could deal with Downs for either ourselves or our child, we opted to do
amniocentesis and find out for sure.
We had, ironically, just had an ultrasound three days before the triple
screen results came in to check for signs of Prune Belly, and had seen what
we and the doctors had thought looked like a beautiful baby (girl, they
thought). The ultrasound did not show any "red flags" that would make them
believe we had a baby with Downs. After what seemed, of course, to be a
lifetime, we found out (in only 8 days!) that she was fine (it is a girl).
I had gone ahead on the advice of my very optimistic husband and gone to my
sisters to pick up baby things and got the call on a Friday at 4 p.m. I had
only been home from my sisters for 20 minutes. That made for a nice
If we ever dare to try having another child, we will do the triple screen
again because we want to know, if possible, exactly what we are up against.
I can, however, sympathize with those who will not do the AFP or triple
screen to save themselves the terror. Finally, I can only say that these
tests do not tell us everything, but they can prepare us for some very
scary things, and also, that they cannot guarantee us that our babies will
be born perfect. Charlene Worley Bruner email@example.com
I became pregnant a few years ago and my midwife suggested taking the AFP
test. It came back with odd results, suggestive not of Down Syndrome but
something I believe was called Trisomy-13. So I had a Level II ultrasound,
which also indicated some possible problems. The baby's head seemed rather
too large in proportion to the body size, and neither the head nor the body
seemed to be the size it should have been for the gestational age. So, to
make a long story short, I had amnio and the results came back with
triploidy. Basically, this means that instead of pairs of chromosomes, this
baby had triplets of them - 69 in all. It was an abnormality incompatible
with life, as they say.
I was urged to have labor induced, because for some reason mothers of
babies with this condition often get toxemia if they try to wait for labor
on their own. I did, and it was a horrible experience. If I had it to do
over again (as I never hope to do) I don't know that I would have labor
induced, even at the risk to my own health. Plus, because the baby looked
relatively normal, my mother has never been convinced that there was
anything actually wrong with her. I was urged in this pregnancy to have
amnio due to my age and my history, but I wanted to have the other tests
first since amnio carries some risks and since it was so painful before.
This time my AFP test results came back with a risk of Down's and the other
disorders compatible with a 20-year-old's. My Level II ultrasounds have
also been fine, and we found out that I am carrying a boy! So while these
tests are not 100% reliable, the combination of results makes me feel
reasonably good about the pregnancy.