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Among other factors, another woman who especially benefits is one who has ingested and/or been exposed to teratogens, properties that can cause harm to her baby in utero. These are drugs like the anti-acne drug, Accutane, and the anti-convulsant drugs, Dilantin and Valproic Acid, and environmental agents, like lead.
How to Make the Best Use of Prenatal Testing
- Know yourself. If you are not willing to have an abortion, then prenatal testing will not change the outcome of your pregnancy. So why do it?
- Choose the prenatal testing method that's best for you. Amniocentesis is slightly more accurate than CVS. On the other hand, CVS is performed earlier in the pregnancy, which makes it preferable for some women. AFP is non- invasive, but is reliable only for detecting neural tube defects.
- Choose an experienced physician to perform the procedure whom you are comfortable with and who will explain everything in a helpful way. The effectiveness and safety of each procedure varies according to who performs the test and who interprets the results. Research shows again and again that the success of prenatal testing depends most of all on the experience of the person performing the test. It's okay to ask how many procedures your physician has performed. It is possible to find a doctor who has performed thousands of these procedures, especially amniocentesis. Many doctors who perform these procedures themselves suggest that you comparison-shop.
- Have your prenatal testing performed where counseling is part of the package. The typical genetic counselor has more training in and understanding of genetics than the typical doctor does. That person may also be particularly helpful in letting you know what you can expect during the procedure and immediately after. A genetic counselor will interview you regarding your family history and help you understand your risk for all birth defects.
- Have someone with you, whether your partner or a friend.
- Decide what it is that you want to know. Do you want to know everything the test can tell you? That includes your baby's gender and whether or not your baby has any of hundreds of disorders that can be recognized. If so, tell both your doctor and the person who is doing the test. Discuss in advance what disorders your fetal sample will be tested for.
- Or do you only want to know if your baby has Down Syndrome, for instance, or Tay-Sachs? If you don't want to know the rest, including your baby's gender, tell them that, too. Prenatal testing can determine chromosomal abnormalities that might never show up as a problem. Information sometimes leads to inappropriate or unnecessary labeling. You can end up worrying about an issue that is not a problem and never will be.