Antenatal Ultrasound and Testing and the Older Mum

Posted: August 10, 2010 in Musings in General, Older Mums
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I talked in this blog post about the fact that I refused most antenatal (or prenatal) testing when pregnant with my first child at the age of 37. What I really meant was that I refused the blood tests to show the possibility of abnormality. Most new mums these days go for all tests but older mums are particularly encouraged to do so because of supposed higher risks.

So, why did I refuse? At the time, where I lived, the earliest abnormality testing was the ‘triple test‘ which was recommended for women at my hugely advanced age – grrrr. This is a blood test that is taken between 16 and 18 weeks for best results. It’s designed to show the possibility of Down’s Syndrome and Spina Bifida.

Why on earth would anyone refuse this I hear you asking. Okay – here are my reasons

  • The test results are skewed by age (that is they factor in your age). Therefore in all likelihood anyone over the age of 35 is going to get a ‘bad’ result
  • A bad result leads to a push to have amniocentesis and I was very against invasive tests
  • The results would have arrived a very short time before the major abnormality scan or ultrasound
  • The ultrasound would show up any very major abnormality
  • I would have carried on with a pregnancy that showed slight chance of abnormality so why worry myself for the rest of the pregnancy with what might be wrong.

I know that there are other options for testing nowadays and I am all for personal choice but I urge anyone who wishes to avoid invasive tests to stand firm and refuse the triple test as it only gives an indication and, therefore, almost always leads to an amniocentesis in women over the age of 35 just because of their age.

What was your experience of ante/pre natal testing? Did you refuse any tests or go for the lot? Either way why did you make that choice?

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Louise Edington, Louise Edington. Louise Edington said: My t post with correct title! Antenatal Ultrasound and Testing and the Older Mum « Lou Loves Learning! […]

  2. Louise, neither Atticus or I are parents, but wanted to read your post anyhow… as we really enjoy your perspective! Great job getting post, after post, out there… you inspire us!

  3. weez loaker-robbins says:

    hi Louise, i had the triple test done and was told i would be called within a week if there were any probs, after a week no call so i told friends and family i was expecting 3 days later i got the call saying there was an abnormality possibly Edwards syndrome and that they would see me in 2 weeks!!!! i was so shocked and upset then made the mistake of looking it up on the internet (never a good idea!!) spoke to a few close friends who were also classed as older mums and so many of them had experiences like mine that turned out to be nothing, many scans later i have finally been told all is good and it looks like baby is healthy, i declined the amnio as i would never terminate no matter what so i thought there was no point in putting baby or me through that, i think these days they are way over the top with all the tests they can do, luckily i stayed positive throughout and had great support but know mothers with same results as me to abort only then to find out baby was healthy, i didn’t think i had the choice in the triple test, having gone what i have been thru i wouldn’t do it again.

    • Oh heavens Weez- how very scary for you. The thing I have learned is that the medical profession just assume that you will have these tests so you kind of how you know what you want before it’s offered which is so very tough for the first time mum. I think the only reason to have the tests is if you would terminate – and that’s an individual choice – but if you wouldn’t anyway why go through all that pain? Thanks so much for commenting Weez – I’ll tell a different story of my second pregnancy next blog post…

  4. Sabine Campbell says:

    Hi Louise, I was pregnant with 23 and then again with 25. My sons are 7 and 4 now. I did not have the triple test done either time. The results are not very accurate and only lead to more invasive tests and so many worries that come along with it. There are so many tests done nowadays that I sometimes think its just a way for them to earn more money. If an expecting mom, young or old, would ask me for advice I would say to not take the test.

    • Hi Sabine, well done for standing up and refusing the test. I too think pregnancies are over tested though not really a way to earn money in the UK. I just think the medical profession gets a little (very) carried away and over medicalises the whole thing. I’m going to write the story of my second pregnancy today and hope you’d read that too.

  5. John says:

    When my wife was pregnant, we chose to take the “triple test”. Our thought was that nothing gained from the test would change what we were going to do, and we’d want to be as prepared as possible in the chance that we were going to give birth to a child requiring special needs (above & beyond the typical special needs that any child needs).

    The test came back doubling our chance of Downs Syndrome – from something like a .1% change to a .25% chance – my wife freaked. Several ultrasounds never put that percentage back to the original…though we finally ended up with an OB/GYN who said, basically, “look, there’s nothing to worry about”, which convinced my wife to not get the amnio done.

    in June, she gave birth to a very healthy baby girl. If we were to go down that pregnancy road again, we will not be getting the test done.

  6. […] a follow up to yesterdays blog post about the fact that I refused the triple test during my first pregnancy I thought I’d talk […]

  7. Zahra says:

    My first pregnancy was at 34.5 years of age, meaning that my daughter was born a few months after I turned 35. I was pressured to get the antenatal testing, and I refused all of it. I refused many times actually until I was past the deadline, and I refused for the same reasons you did. I hope to get pregnant soon. If I was to get pregnant today, my 2nd child would be born when I was 38. I don’t plan on getting any invasive tests the second time around either, and I will likely not get the blood tests either. I would carry a Downs Syndrome baby to term, and the ultrasound should show abnormalities if the baby had spina bifida. So I don’t see the point.

    • And how I wish I’d stuck to that during my second pregnancy – thanks so much for commenting. I wouldn’t get the blood tests either if I were you as they will only recommend an amnio afterwards.

  8. And you will certainly be either ripped off by it or paying more for
    the additional coverage.

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