False Positives

I had false-positive AFP and chose to take the amniocentesis test to confirm the baby was fine. Since the amnio is not a risk free test, I am angry with myself for exposing my baby to an unnecessary test that could have hurt him.

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Peg Plumbo CNM

Peg Plumbo has been a certified nurse-midwife (CNM) since 1976. She has assisted at over 1,000 births and currently teaches in the... Read more

I can understand your pain. Like all forms of technology, medical tests are coldly calculated on the statistics of chance. There is a human component which the caregiver must provide. Too often, we accept tests into the mainstream of quality care without remembering that this is new to the couple, who may experience the direct impact of such information. This is why informed consent is so critical. Every couple should be given information based on risks and benefits of the test, or any procedure, and informed fully of the follow-up, which may be necessary. This includes potential psychological risk.

As medical providers, we fall into the misguided notion that everyone needs and wants to know everything. I have known couples who did not want to know the gender of their unborn child after an ultrasound, but they did not want to be the ONLY ones who did not know. When they were told, they felt a bit cheated.

I think you did the right thing in having the amnio. Maternal stress can have adverse effects upon the fetus also. The value of the AFP in preparing for a baby with a neural tube defect or with Down syndrome cannot be ignored. Care providers see these benefits every day, but unfortunately, can be insensitive to those who suffer false positive tests.

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