Prenatal genetic testing provides a quick and convenient way to gather important information about your baby’s health and its risk of certain genetic disorders. Genetic testing is a personal decision. Before scheduling an appointment with your OB/GYN or general practitioner, it’s important to consider the pros and cons of genetic testing.
Who Should Undergo Prenatal Genetic Testing?
Prenatal testing can provide important information about your pregnancy and the health of your child. Your OB/GYN or general practitioner might encourage you to undergo prenatal genetic testing if:
- You’re age 35 or older (or will be 35 or older at the time of delivery)
- You have a personal or family history of a pregnancy with chromosome abnormalities
- You or your partner are genetic carriers
Your physician can evaluate your current health and medical history to make a recommendation that aligns with your needs.
What Are The Benefits of Prenatal Genetic Testing?
There are various benefits of prenatal genetic testing, including:
Peace of Mind
Studies show that about 52% of pregnant women experience anxiety. Carrying a baby is hard on your body, and preparing for a baby’s arrival is a lot of work. Prenatal genetic testing provides important information about the health and well-being of your growing fetus. Staying informed can reduce anxiety about the unknown.
Noninvasive prenatal tests (NIPT) and carrier screening can determine with high accuracy if your baby is at risk of certain genetic disorders like Down syndrome, neural tube defects, or cystic fibrosis. Learning this information early on, when your baby is still in the womb, can help you better prepare for their arrival and plan for treatment options, if necessary.
Genetic testing provides a highly accurate way to determine your baby’s gender. Some parents prefer to keep this information secret, but if you’re starting to buy clothes or decorate the nursery, it can come in handy.
What Are The Cons of Prenatal Genetic Testing?
When determining whether to undergo prenatal genetic testing, it’s important to consider the potential downsides.
It’s Not 100% Accurate
Prenatal genetic testing has a proven track record, but no screening is 100% accurate. As a result, it’s possible to receive a false-positive or false-negative. Prior to taking a test, your OB/GYN or general practitioner can explain the methods used and what to expect when you receive the results.
The Risk of the Unknown
If your prenatal genetic test reveals that your child is at risk of a genetic disorder, your OB/GYN or general practitioner can refer you to a genetic counselor. A genetic counselor can explain the results of your test in-depth and help you plan for the future.
In addition, there are many online support groups and communities that can provide advice and support for parents of children with special needs.
If you’re trying to determine if genetic testing is right for you, reach out to your OB/GYN or general practitioner for insight and advice.