Study: Should Pregnant Women Get Prenatal Tests?

A new study shows pregnant women might not get prenatal tests if they knew more about some risks associated with them.

The study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association involved 700 women. Half of the women were shown a "decision support guide" and were offered free prenatal testing afterward.

The remaining women were not shown the guide or offered free testing.

"Women who had the opportunity to view the program were less likely to undergo diagnostic testing than women who did not have a student intervention," said Dr. Miriam Kuppermann of the University of California, San Francisco.

Kupperman developed the computerized decision support guide along with Dr. Mary Norton of UCSF to provide women with detailed information on prenatal testing.

"It contains information about Down syndrome and other conditions for which testing is available," Kupperman said.

About 5.9 percent of women who used the guide decided to get tested, even though the tests would have been free for them.

Dr. Bruce's advice: If you are pregnant, ask your doctor if you are at risk for developmental defects. This is more often the case with older mothers.

If your doctor suggests testing, ask:

  • What does the test look for?
  • How accurate is the test?
  • What are the risks associated with the test?

Then weigh the risks and benefits to decide if testing is right for you.

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