Birth Defects Testing - Deciding About Testing
The decision to have a test for birth defects
is personal. You have to think about your age, your chance of passing on a family disease, your need to know about any problems, and what you might do after you
have the test results. Your spiritual beliefs and other values also may play a
role in your decision.
Some birth defects—such as a
cleft lip or
cleft palate or certain heart problems—can be fixed
with surgery after birth and sometimes even with surgery during pregnancy. Some
other defects cannot be fixed.
Reasons to have tests
You may decide to have the tests
- You would think about whether to continue the
pregnancy if there is a birth defect.
- You have a family history of
an illness such as cystic fibrosis, Tay-Sachs disease, or hemophilia. For more
information on cystic fibrosis testing, see the topic
Cystic Fibrosis Carrier Screening.
- You have insurance that will pay for some or all of the cost of
- You need to know whether there might be a problem,
because not knowing would make you worry.
- You want to learn all you
can about caring for and raising a child with a certain birth defect.
- You would want to plan what hospital and doctors to work with to
make sure that all of your baby's needs are met.
Reasons NOT to have tests
You may decide not to
have birth defects tests because:
- You would continue the pregnancy no matter what
the tests show.
- The screening test may show a problem even though your
baby doesn't have the problem. You would be worried while you wait for the test
- These tests can't find all possible problems.
- You are worried about the risk of
miscarriage. Both CVS and amniocentesis have a small
risk of miscarriage.
- Tests can be expensive. You may not have insurance, or your
insurance may not pay for the tests.
For more help on deciding about tests, see the topics:
- Pregnancy: Should I Have the Maternal Serum Triple or Quadruple Test?
- Pregnancy: Should I Have an Early Fetal Ultrasound?
- Pregnancy: Should I Have CVS (Chorionic Villus Sampling)?
- Pregnancy: Should I Have Amniocentesis?