How To Handle Bad News About Your Unborn Baby: Facts About Genetic Screenings and Diagnostic Testing

Many emotions can emerge throughout pregnancy, and not all of them are going to be positive. No one is immune to anxiety, and it’s important to not feel down on yourself if you are experiencing anxiety during this time of your life. Nevertheless, pregnancy is a period when it’s especially important to take care of both you and your baby by eating well, getting enough rest, and supplementing with vitamins.

Not all news throughout pregnancy is pleasant. Whether you’re currently pregnant, planning to get pregnant in the near future, or know someone who is expecting a little one soon, here’s some essential information to help you prepare for the possibility of bad news while expecting.

Prenatal Testing Can Help Detect Abnormalities

Anxiety and excitement coexist throughout pregnancy, and having health issues is a genuine concern for new parents. But this anxiety can be reduced by opting for prenatal testing, which can help detect if there’s any abnormality. Prenatal testing is performed to determine the presence or absence of certain hereditary disorders in an unborn child. These tests can be divided into two parts: genetic screenings and diagnostic testing.

What Is Genetic Screening?

Many fetal anomalies have a genetic component, and prenatal screening tests can help parents determine the likelihood that their child will be born with one of these conditions. A person’s likelihood of getting or passing on a genetic ailment can be calculated, and any previously suspected genetic conditions can be confirmed or ruled out based on the findings of a non-invasive genetic screening test.

What Does Genetic Screening Determine?

The results of a screening test are not always clear-cut, but the screening results can inform you whether your baby is at an increased risk for a genetic disorder or if the risk is minimal. If there’s some abnormality in the tests, then your doctor may guide you toward diagnostic testing, such as chorionic villus sampling, fetal echocardiogram, or blood sampling.

Diagnostic Testing

On the other hand, diagnostic tests are more intrusive and are performed to identify the root of a problem rather than only to screen for it. Ultrasonography and other types of prenatal diagnostic testing, such as specific blood tests are frequently performed as part of standard prenatal care. However, more invasive procedures (like amniocentesis, umbilical blood sample, or chorionic villus collection) have a greater potential danger and can be needed if something is not right during the screenings.

What Does a Diagnostic Test Determine?

A diagnostic test can provide helpful information on a baby’s health, such as detecting whether or not a newborn is affected by a chromosomal disorder such as Klinefelter Syndrome, Down syndrome, or Turner syndrome.

The decision of whether or not to undergo diagnostic testing should be made after having an appropriate conversation with the attending physician and carefully assessing the benefits and drawbacks of being tested. In most cases, these tests do not pose any danger to a developing baby and can provide critical information for parents.

How To Avoid Genetic Anomalies

The prevention of genetic disorders and other birth abnormalities begins with preconception education and counseling. There is no hard and fast rule that will avoid genetic anomalies. Still, if you are well-educated and take prenatal measures, then you can help avoid genetic anomalies. That said, there is always a chance of genetic abnormalities, no matter how many precautions are taken.

Every pregnancy carries a three percent risk of producing a child with a severe disability, mental illness, or genetic abnormality. The likelihood of this happening increases with the birth of each successive child, advancing age, and a long history of disease running in a family.