Why It's Important

The vast majority of babies born are healthy, and there is not often a need for concern.

prenatal testing
However, some parents -- and some caregivers -- want to eliminate the worry of, various possible birth defects, such as chromosomal defects, birth defects from infection (including HIV and rubella) as well as defects caused by conditions such as fetal alcohol syndrome (aka FAS). Many defects can be discovered during pregnancy via one or more prenatal tests. But how much you want to know is up to you. Some women feel routine testing is unnecessary in their cases, since the risk of serious defects for the majority of healthy and conscientious women is extremely small. They may also believe that a serious defect is likely to be discovered even without the test and don't want to spend their pregnancy worrying too much about those that aren't serious. Some women say, "I would never terminate my pregnancy, regardless of the outcome of the testing, so I don't want to do it." And some fear an ambiguous result that may cause needless worry or the need for making frightening choices they feel are best left in the hands of a higher power. Other parents feel better ruling out certain defects, especially those for which their baby is at higher risk; or perhaps they want advance notice of any issues, so they can prepare on both emotional and practical levels. For example, babies with certain defects may need to be delivered very carefully (sometimes via cesarean section, as a vaginal birth may be too traumatic) or may require special resuscitation equipment to be on hand at the time of birth. If the birth defect is a very serious or potentially fatal one, knowing in advance may also help you, as a parent, to prepare emotionally for the situation your child faces. Having some time to know what to expect -- and to accept -- can allow the family of a child with a fatal defect to make the most of every moment.

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