Do you really need to have all those pregnancy tests the doctor ordered? Read on and find out.
If you are expecting, you should ensure that your health is optimum for both you and your baby. Going for your antenatal appointments is a must. It is during this time your doctor checks for any potential problems and addresses them. It is also a chance for you to clear any doubts that you may have.
Your doctor will count your pregnancy in terms of weeks, starting from the first day of your last period, to estimate your Estimated Delivery Date (EDD). The “standard” is 40 weeks, although babies are considered full term once they reach 37 weeks. Some women may even have a 42-week pregnancy.
A more accurate way to determine when you are due is by doing an ultrasound scan which may be scheduled anytime from the 6th to the 12th week. This will be your first view of your baby and the first time you can see his heartbeat.
When a child is born with an extra copy of the chromosome 21, he has
Down syndrome. The risk of having a child with Down syndrome increases with the age of the mother although it can occur at any age. It happens randomly and is rarely hereditary.
This is a developmental disorder and the child will have mild to moderate intellectual delay and he is also likely to have heart, hearing and visual defects. Children with this disorder can benefit from stimulation programmes, and some of them can lead a healthy life and live up to 40 - 50 years.
In the past, mothers over the age of 35 were offered amniocentesis or chorionic villous sampling to detect if they may have a Down syndrome baby. This strategy picks up only 30% of Down syndrome babies. Amniocentesis involves taking some amniotic fluid from the baby at about 15-20 weeks of pregnancy while chorionic villous sampling involves biopsy of the placenta at about 10-13 weeks for testing.
There are now better screening tests which are non-invasive and are offered to all mothers regardless of their age. These tests do not tell you if you have a Down syndrome baby but tell you your risk of having one. From this risk, you may make a second decision whether you want to have a confirmatory test. Down syndrome screening is optional and whether you should have one is a decision that only you and your spouse can make.
If the screening test shows that the risk of Down syndrome is higher than 1 in 300, you are screen positive. Being screen positive does not mean that your baby has Down syndrome.
It just means the risk is high enough to consider doing further confirmatory tests which may be in the form of the following:
It is important to note that while these tests are advised to allow early detection of abnormalities in the baby, no test is 100% accurate and some abnormalities may remain undetected.
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This article was last reviewed on
22 Nov 2023
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