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How to test the health of an unborn child
A number of complications can occur during pregnancy, which are associated with an increased risk to the fetus. Many expectant parents are worried that everything may not be fine with their offspring. There are a number of examinations available to expectant parents that go beyond the maternity guidelines provided during pregnancy. available. They can be used to search for abnormalities in the unborn child. However, today's technology cannot guarantee 100 percent security. In women from the age of 35, pregnancy is associated with a not inconsiderable risk and this risk increases the older the future mother is. Above all, they experience the chromosomal disorder known as Down syndrome (trisomy 21).
The common methods summarized under the term "prenatal diagnosis" include ultrasound examination (sonography), which also includes neck transparency measurement, nasal bone measurement and fetometry, blood tests or amniotic fluid puncture. Parents should definitely consider which examinations should be carried out, because they are related to the health of the mother and the child and it does not always lead to clear results. Sometimes the health insurance does not cover the costs. Consultation with the doctor is essential. The Genetic Diagnostics Act stipulates that no matter which method is used to examine the fetus, the doctor must provide detailed information and specialist genetic advice. Parents, for whom this is not enough, can also get information from special human genetic counseling centers.
Blood test and ultrasound The neck wrinkle measurement is a blood test and a special ultrasound diagnosis that is carried out between the 12th and 14th week of pregnancy. This examination is also called first trimester screening. Based on the results, the probability of trisomy 21 in the child can be calculated. But whether the child actually has the chromosome disorder cannot be answered. In women over 35 years, Down syndrome occurs in 1 out of 380 cases, explains Christian Albring from the professional association of gynecologists.
During the amniotic fluid examination, amniotic fluid is removed from the amniotic sac through the abdominal wall using a hollow needle. In this way, child cells can be obtained, from which it can then be clearly determined whether there is a chromosome disorder. In one in 100 to 200 cases there is a risk that the intervention will cause a miscarriage.
Risk calculations alone do not help Albring recommends that every woman over 30 years of age have this examination carried out, because if a woman is unsure whether she should keep the child or have an abortion if she has Down syndrome, the simple risk calculation can help her do not help decision making.
"We were aware that you can't really do anything with the result because it's just a probability calculation," adds the mother from Berlin. "Deriving an action from this is difficult." After all, the accuracy of the first trimester screening is 85 to 95 percent, according to Robin Schwerdtfeger. The president of the professional association of prenatal physicians (BVNP) only recommends this method if the screening has produced a "clearly unfavorable" result. "I would only recommend this test in special situations, such as when a woman is over 40, has had fertility treatment, and only got pregnant on the third try," he explains. The test is possible from the 10th week of pregnancy. But actually, an examination only makes sense if a woman belongs to a risk group, there was a conspicuous first trimester screening or she has a child with trisomy 21 from a previous pregnancy.
Even though the blood test can be used to calculate a fairly high probability, there are still uncertainties, the doctor said. Due to the risks associated with the examinations, parents should carefully consider which diagnostic procedures they would like to have carried out. The privately paid medical checks are also criticized because doctors use them to improve their fees. There is also no evidence that diseases occur less frequently or are less dangerous. The so-called hedgehog monitor, in which the medical service of the central association of health insurance funds (MDS) evaluates the self-pay performance, judged numerous examinations as negative. (fr)
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