Genetic screening during pregnancy has many advantages. However, it has many disadvantages too. One of the main advantages of genetic screening is that you get to know about the possibility of your baby having any genetic disorder. This kind of screening also gives the parents time to get prepared, a peace of mind and inspiration to lead a healthier life. The choice to continue with the pregnancy or not is also another advantage of genetic screening.
There are many downsides to this screening as well. The psychological pressure on the parents is an important disadvantage. Also the social consequences of raising a defected child and the huge expense of the test are the negative sides to this test. The emotional turmoil in the family after knowing the result factors as a significant con as well. Sometimes the accuracy of this screening is also not guaranteed and can give false positives.
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The pros and cons of genetic screening are given below:
Genetic Screening During Pregnancy
Obtaining information before the birth
Genetic screening is done during pregnancy to obtain the information whether the baby has a risk of any genetic disorder. Sometimes either or both the parents have repressed genetic disorder. This might pass down to the baby during pregnancy. Some genetic disorders like thalassemia, down syndrome, cystic fibrosis etc can affect the baby in the womb. With the prior knowledge of a possible risk, the doctors can prepare for the birthing of a healthy child . Genetic screening is primarily done for couples with a history of genetic disorder in the family. An expectant woman above the age of 35 is also eligible for screening. However, this screening is in no way completely accurate.
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Parents get time to prepare
The result of this screening gives the parents proper time to prepare themselves mentally. Taking care of a genetically defective baby is difficult. One has to take care of a special child with utmost care. You may decide to set up a special fund for your child for his/her future. You can also start a medical insurance coverage. There are other decisions too that you will have time to think about. Your family members will also get time to prepare themselves in every way.
Parents get a choice
Raising a genetically disordered child is in no way an easy job. A child with special needs requires proper care and love. Sometimes the genetic disorder detected can be so severe that it needs expensive treatment for the entire lifetime of the child. Often the disease reduces the longevity of the child. After knowing all this, parents can take an informed decision whether to terminate the pregnancy or continue with it. Since many couples do not want to give birth to a baby who will suffer his or her entire life. Prenatal screening can prove advantageous in this way.
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This kind of screening during pregnancy can also put a lot of mental pressure on the parents. Every couple is not always ready to face the result if it comes positive. They feel depressed and frustrated. Knowing that your baby is at a risk of being genetically defected is very difficult to deal with. You will always be worried about your child’s health. Even slight health issues can scare you. You are likely to take any kind of illness as an indication of the genetic disease. This can prove detrimental for the child’s upbringing. You have to live with the knowledge if you go for a genetic screening during pregnancy.
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Some insurance companies cover the expense of genetic screening. But not all insurance companies do that. In that case, this kind of test can be very expensive. Middle class families find it even more difficult to cover the expense. The financial aspect of this screening proves to be one of the many disadvantages. It is one of the reasons why genetic screening during pregnancy is not very common in financially weak section of the community.
Accuracy of the screening
Genetic screening cannot provide guaranteed result. It can only ascertain the possibility of a baby being born with genetic disorder. Sometimes the result can come positive. But the baby turns out to be completely healthy and lives a long life. This kind of screening can never be a sure shot way to know the truth about your baby. There is always a risk that this test will not show a genetic disorder in the baby. There is also a chance that the screening will show a false positive. In both situations, you will not get a correct guidance.
The knowledge of your baby being possibly affected by genetic illness may cause distress in your family. As parents you will have to be emotionally strong to raise such a child. The support of your family and friends is very crucial in this situation. Sometimes family members do not accept a child with special need. It is a social conditioning and difficult to overcome. Anxiety, anger, guilt are likely to overwhelm you and your family.
Risks of the screening procedure
The screening is generally non-invasive. It can be done by taking a simple blood sample of the mother. However, sometimes the procedure involves taking fluid from the womb. This puts the fetus or the unborn baby at risk. It may also lead to possible miscarriage. This is a real disadvantage of genetic screening.
Prenatal screening or genetic screening is becoming common nowadays. It has many pros as well as cons. This screening can hint at a possible anomaly in your baby’s genes. However, it can provide only limited knowledge. The screening can’t determine if the child will show symptoms of the illness. It can’t also determine if the disease will progress with time or not. A genetics professional can explain in details the advantages and limitations of genetic screening during pregnancy. It is always better to consult a genetic professional before you decide to go for the screening.