I am trying to decide whether or not to get the alpha-fetoprotein test. It has to be done between the 16th and 17th week of pregnancy for most accurate results. I declined the test when I was pregnant with my daughter. I am scared to take the test because I know it can come back positive even when there's not problem. I don't want to worry needlessly. I also would not consider abortion if I found out I was carrying a baby with Downsyndrome. That's not the only birth defect it can detect. The statistics show that many women who get this test done actually are carrying a perfectly healthy baby. The followup amniocentisis or ultrasounds showed the babies were fine. And it happened to a friend of mine too. She was worried sick. Anyone have any input about this test? Has anyone had a positive result and then after the followup tests the fetus was actually fine? Another friend of mine said she and two of her friends had it done and they all came back negative. So I am torn in what I should do. I really don't want to get the test, and it's totally up to me to decide.
My sister had that test done about 6 years ago and it showed there was a problem. The doctor said it could be spinal bifada or some other major problems or even twins. She was so stressed and cried for a week untill they day of her appointment for them to check her amniol fluid. The test came back fine. She also learned that the test is wong half the time. She went on the have a healthy baby. A year later when I got pregnant, I refused the test because of the odds.
I would certainly recommend that you have the AFP test performed. It can detect neural tube defects such as Spina Bifida that can be a very devastating birth defect. It DOES have varying degrees of severity.
However, even in the mildest of cases, preparation of the physicians AND family members involved is of a GREAT benefit, and may certainly improve the infant's chance for survival...Yes, there may be false positives, but I would rather err on the side of caution..
Just my opinion,
I had it done with both of my pregnancies and when I get pregnant again I will have it done then also.
So far I havent had problems with it being inaccurate. I have other friends who also had it done and had no problems with the results.
It is still a personal choice. Though it might help if there is something that you catch it early that way you can be prepared just in case.
Thanks for your replies. I am thinking I probably won't have it done. But I have 4 weeks to decide, so I might change my mind. I keep reading the booklet and the statistics just don't seem high enough. Even after the followup tests they still only catch a percentage. And Spina Bifida is so rare I'm not really worried about that. Downsyndrome and the other chromozonal disorder become more common as we age, and I am 33. Of course, any one of us can be that statistic. If anyone else has any stories, please let me know.
I just looked up AFP on the internet and found a site that listed many posts from women that had gone through what I am worried about. I think I read about 30 or so posts. This makes me really not want to do it. But I still have time.
Molly H.<p>[This message has been edited by Molly M (edited 02-16-2002).]
Personally, I didn't have it done. I mean my hubby and I knew we weren't going to do anything as far as terminating the preg. so why know?? I read that these tests are VERY inaccurate and then you could end up doing an amnio or CVS(?) and they could cause a miscarriage. Plus, if the test is wrong and you do all that worrying you could harm the baby and be worried for no reason. They have proven that stress affects the baby. Why do anything that would stress you? If you feel you could handle the test with no or little stress then go ahead. I guess some people feel it is better to have the warning so you can get prepared. But no one will really know the extent of the problem..if there was one...until the baby was born and possibly considerably older. My in laws went 2 years not knowing if their daughter was deaf or not. And my sister in law went 6 months not completely sure if her son was autistic. Plus, you hear stories all the time of babies overcoming the odds. Why worry now?? The kids will give you enough to worry about later. Save your patience!! LOL!!
That test is incredibly inaccurate. I never had it, BUT, I do know several women who had and it came back false positive. If your dates are off even by a couple of days, the test can give a false positive. Most u/s techs can give the same info. Personally, I didn't want to stress over something that could most likely be wrong, KWIM?
#3 Katrina Rose EDD 4/29/02
When my doctor offered the test, she warned me about the high rate of false positives, and being the worrywort that I am, I refused to take it. She also had said that the test can come up positive for defects falsley nearly half the time!!!! What is the point of that other than having to order more expensive and invasive testing to verify the results, or just to cause mom to worry profusely!
I always assumed that the AFP test is only a screening test to flag any genetic markers for increased risk of having a baby with spina bifida or downs syndrome. The way I understood it when the doctor explained the test to me, it doesn't give indication of the state of the baby... just tests what you may be at risk for. A "positive" result, I thought, only meant YOU have increased risk of having a child with a disorder, not that your child potentially has a disorder. Am I wrong in assuming this? Maybe none of this really matters, anyway.. I guess the core issue here is, do you really want to know? Incidentally, I had a raised risk for spina bifida and so did my sis. We had further bloodwork done, and the babies were fine. I'm not sure exactly what the "further" bloodwork checked or what it was called(stupidly I never asked), but you'd think they would give that test in the first place. Maybe it's more expensive than the AFP screening and the damn HMO probably requires a screening before the more expensive bloodwork. But, my point here is that even if you have a flag on your AFP, I think there are other options before amnio.
I think that deciding on the AFP screening has become such a stressful thing, that I don't blame people for not wanting to take it. It is a very personal choice. It test isn't, however, an answer to anything. To me it's simply another diagnostic tool, that I can use to further prepare myself to care for my child in the best way possible. Not everyone needs or wants to do this, though. We are all very different. Good luck with whatever you decide.<p>[This message has been edited by UpTite (edited 02-24-2002).]
The test is a screening test like you say. But it isn't for checking if YOU are at higher risk, it checks for a certain type of protein. If it shows high amounts, something could be wrong. And when it shows low amounts, something could be wrong also. It is not a GENETIC screening test. I'm not sure I understood you correctly, but I'm just saying what I understand the test to be. The problem with this is that there are numerous other reasons why this protein is found. One can be that dates are off, even by just a couple days. Another can be slight bleeding of the placenta. I'm sure there are tons of other reasons for "false positives" that even the doctors are unaware of. There must be for there to be such a high rate of "false positives". The fact that you and your sister both had results that indicated there could have been a problem is only more reason why I don't want to take this test. Thanks for your reply, I appreciate it.