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Prenatal Testing

by Tom Seman MD FAAP January 3rd, 2013 | Pediatrician on Call
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babyI am pregnant with my first child, and I am over 30 years old. My doctor
 keeps recommending that I get my blood tested and have an ultrasound to
 make sure that the baby is ok. No matter what, I do not want to terminate
 the pregnancy. Is it really important to do all of these tests?

Congratulations! People have often wondered if there is a reason to do all
 of the tests, especially when they know that they will have the baby no
 matter what. After all, just a generation ago, there were not as many tests 
to tell what genetic disorders or birth defects were present.  You learned
 after the child was born, so why bother with the testing?

There are several reasons why. First of all, by knowing ahead of time, 
the pediatrician and neonatologist (a specialist of premature infant and full term 
infants up to 30 days old) can be present to help with whatever 
issues may occur right away. Further specialist care can be arranged
 ahead of time so that the child will get the necessary evaluations as soon
 as possible to decrease any further complications.

In regards to genetic issues, some of these children require special
 formulas, supplements, or other special care and/or medicines to keep them as
 healthy as possible. Starting off with these items will decrease the
 chance of mental retardation, strokes, heart or kidney failures, 
overwhelming infections, and even death. Knowledge is power.

Most importantly, though, understanding ahead of time what defects your 
child will have and any consequences that may be associated with these birth 
defects allows the parents time to grieve a little over the loss of their 
”perfect baby.” This gives them the ability to accept and love the child when
 he/she is born, seeing that child now as the perfect little child with 
whatever issue he/she may have. Too often I have heard parents talk about 
the regret they have for not holding, touching, or loving their baby enough
 for the first few days or week, because they were upset or shocked about an 
unknown defect or issue that their child had.

This emotional turmoil changes the parent-child bond which may affect their lifelong 
relationship. With millions of events that must go on for a fertilized egg 
to become a new human being, let us treasure all of those wonderful children when they are born.

Happy New Year.

Good Luck,
 DR TOM

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All health and medical information is provided for educational purposes and is not meant to replace the medical advice or treatment of your healthcare professional.