Prenatal Screening and the Experience of Pregnancy

The advent of MSAFP screening transformed the experience of pregnancy for the low risk woman—that is, the great majority of pregnancies. As is clear from Table 1, it is possible for a woman to go through a period of waiting for results of one test only to then begin all over again with testing for another condition. For example, a thirty-year old Southeast Asian woman might have a standard blood work-up that revealed anemia, be offered thalassemia carrier testing along with her partner, and, when both proved to be carriers, be offered CVS; she might have a negative result and then, some weeks later, be offered multiple marker screening and receive a positive result; she might then choose to undergo amniocentesis. All of this could produce a healthy baby and a disastrously upsetting and expensive pregnancy. There appear to be no empirical data on the frequency of such experiences. However, variations on this theme are frequently reported by obstetric providers.

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