Amniocentesis – How to Decide

The decision of whether or not to have a diagnostic test, such as amniocentesis, can be a difficult decision to make. Your genetic counselor can help answer any questions, and help you come to the decision that is best for your personality, beliefs, and values. Some things that may be helpful to think about if you are thinking about undergoing an amniocentesis procedure are:

  • Do I feel like I need ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers to be able to enjoy the rest of my pregnancy?
  • If I feel like I need a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer, and I OK with the small risk for miscarriage that is associated with these procedures (generally thought to be less than 1 in 200, or 0.5%)?
  • Would I feel OK waiting until the baby arrives to know for sure if they have one of these conditions?
  • If I knew that the pregnancy had a chromosome condition, would it affect my decision on whether or not to continue the pregnancy?
  • If I knew that the pregnancy had a chromosome condition, would it affect my decision on what to do after the baby arrives (such as adoption)?
  • Are there other trusted people in your life that you can turn to for advice and perspective (i.e. religious leader, family member, friend)?

If someone is still having difficulty deciding whether or not they want a diagnostic procedure, it may be helpful to think of the various outcomes. If someone would end a pregnancy if it was found to have a chromosome condition, then the two outcomes that would be the least favorable would be either:

  1. Not having a diagnostic procedure, such as amniocentesis, and then finding out later that the pregnancy had a chromosome condition that could have been diagnosed early in pregnancy, OR
  2. Having a diagnostic procedure, such as amniocentesis, and then having a subsequent miscarriage, and finding out that the pregnancy did not have a chromosome condition.

Either of these ‘worst case’ scenarios could be difficult to handle, but if you were faced with them both, which seems like the more difficult option?

These questions are not meant to be the be-all end-all of things to consider when deciding whether or not to have an amniocentesis, but they can be a good place to start.

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Last updated on Apr 7th, 2018