Monday, April 27, 2009

AFP Testing

During your pregnancy (between 15 and 17 weeks), your doctor will offer you a screening to estimate risk of certain abnormalities. There is usually not much information shared with you at that time. The doctor asks if you want it, says they can test for conditions like Down Syndrome and most women opt to have the testing done, thinking they will get a definitive answer. What they may not realize is that a screening is not the same as testing and there are many false results that cause a great deal of worry and stress in a pregnancy that is very likely normal. A positive screen leads to an option for amniocentesis or other follow-up that is more reliable. This is more invasive and can lead to complications in the pregnancy, including miscarriage and infection.

If your provider offers this test, ask questions. What will it actually tell me? What is the next step? What are the risks and benefits? How will this help me have a healthier baby? And, ask yourself: Would I opt for the more extensive testing, even if it might add risk to the pregnancy? Would I choose to abort if the amnio indicates the baby is not perfect?

You don't have to have this screening unless you want it. Many women opt out based on these questions. We have seen women become very nervous following an abnormal screen; not able to relax and enjoy their pregnancies until they were certain all was well with the baby. In most cases, the baby is fine, but it can help you to determine some genetic defects in advance and with the additional testing may help the mother to deal with the circumstances better.

The important thing is to understand this is your decision to make. Click on the post title for some additional comments on this subject, including some reader responses regarding their own experiences. also discusses prenatal testing here.

Read about one mother's experience with a false-positive screening here. Best Blogger Tips


  1. I opted out of this test because to me the test is so inaccurate that I don't need the extra stress. I decided that if and only if there was something found durring the ultrasound, would I opt for testing. And that would only be for me to know what to expect. I did this with my first pregnancy too and it turned out for the best.

  2. Thanks for sharing your experience. It is important to realize you can choose and when you understand that there are many false positives you do realize that stress may be the primary result while you worry over the next round of testing. Most cases turn out to be a "false alarm". I have known women unable to function due to the stress the test caused only to find it was not a problem at all.


This blog only reviews comments before posting to avoid hijacking. We will respond to comments Mon-Thurs but we are closed Fri-Sun and legal holidays.