Quad Screen and why I would never do it again.

I decided to do all the little screenings for genetic diseases just because it’s better to know than no to know.  So when the receptionist at my doctor’s office called yesterday morning I thought she was just confirming today’s appointment, but was instead given the results of the Quad Screen:  a blood test that looks at hormone levels that indicate a possibility of things like Down Syndrome.

My results said that that particular hormone level was higher than average and put my probability of having a Down Syndrome baby at 1 in 16.  I’m not sure why they didn’t just wait until my appointment today.  Probably they wanted me to have my little FREAK OUT at home so that by the time I hit their office I was under control again

1 in 16 is not where I want to be.  At 19 weeks.  Abortion is legal until 24 weeks but he’s been kicking for 3 weeks now and he’s a real live human being who has already been named and he seems really happy in there.  I’m set up with a specialist in Billings for some more testing but by the time all the results come in I’ll be 5 1/2 months and that is way too late and would only cause me to be devastated for the rest of my life if I decided to end it.

So here are my thoughts on these prenatal screenings in no particular order (and they are different than they were before I got results):

  • If they were earlier, like 12 weeks, I could make a choice.
  • They are a numbers game, a probability, and not even a real diagnosis.
  • The quad screen uses an equation that takes the hormone level and multiplies by a factor because of age so that I am compared to all other 40 year old women which isn’t very realistic as I am really healthy and not aging badly.
  • The 1 in 16 doesn’t take into account the early ultrasound screening, which came up fine on nasal bone and neck fold OR the ultrasound I had last week in which all other markers looked fine and he is a week bigger than average.
  • I feel forced to make a moral choice at some point that I can’t make and if the numbers weren’t there I wouldn’t feel like there was a choice and whatever would happen would happen and I wouldn’t have regrets either way.
  • The screenings seem to be very very inaccurate, so many false positives and not really meaning anything that I wonder why they even bother doing them, although I’m sure it has something to do with money.
  • A 25% false positive rate is too high to be considered reliable at all.
  • Even the 10 markers they will look for at the Level II ultrasound in Billings on Thursday don’t necessarily indicate anything.
  • This even leaves me with a decision on whether I want an amnio or not depending on the markers and I’m worried that I may harm a perfectly good fetus.
  • Knowledge is not always power.  Sometimes knowledge is just arrogance and playing God.
  • I feel like I’ve started down a path that I have to take because the worry will hurt me more than the testing will.
  • Giving this probability to women may cause more harm than good.
  • Any baby with Nick’s nose cannot possibly have Down Syndrome.
  • I’ve only ever found one gray hair and so my cells aren’t breaking down as quickly as other 40 year old women.
  • I’ve gained a total of 5 pounds and my front looks more like 15 or 20 so I’m not sure what part of me is thinner, but it all came from somewhere.
  • I am trying not to worry and everyone says not to worry but that is impossible when it’s your child.

One thought on “Quad Screen and why I would never do it again.

  1. If is any comfort, you do not have to worry alone. You have the YBHC crew, myself included. I won’t say anything and keep this confidential. Just having others available to listen is a plus

    You also have the gift of being able to express yourself in writing. So write,journal,get it out and rewrite, and let the narrative just take you.

    Being male and never a parent leaves me speechless, but I am still a good listener.

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