Screening for chromosomal abnormalities in the first, rather than the second, trimester allows for earlier prenatal diagnosis and consequently less-traumatic termination of pregnancy for couples who choose this option. It may help couples make a decision when more invasive testing seems warranted. It also alerts caregivers to potential problems so care can be individualized. For example, if a couple chooses to give birth to a baby with Down syndrome, specialized care can be made available to safeguard the baby from the time of diagnosis through the postpartum period. Couples may also choose to educate themselves about the potential joys and trials ahead, as well as to join or organize support groups and provide information for friends and family.
Pregnancy after age 35 presents its own challenges, for both the mother and the care provider. Medical research has provided the expectant couple with more information and more choices than ever before. And if you don't want to undergo prenatal testing, your caregiver shouldn't pressure you to do it; she should simply provide appropriate referrals to genetic counseling and accurate information about risks and options for care.
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