I recent came across this article, in The Globe and Mail (a Canadian newspaper). It discusses new research being done in Canada about the very common blanket approach of using 35 as the magical age for when pregnant woman must start having an amniocentesis, and how that perhaps is not the best approach.
This blanket use of an amniocentesis for screening for birth defects in all women 35 and older is very common in most western countries. A woman’s risk of having a baby is a birth defect or chromosomal abnormality such as downs syndrome increases as she gets older so doctors have picked 35 as the magically age. The Canadian researchers, however, have found that it is better to treat each woman and each pregnancy on an individual basis. Instead of saying at 35 all women have to under go the procedure it should only be done if the doctor and the woman feel it is necessary through earlier screenings and a discussion of the woman’s family history. Instead 40 would become the magical the age when all women should have the procedure.
Given that an amniocentesis carries a slight risk of inducing a miscarriage doctors feel it shouldn’t be used to frequently in unnecessary cases. Instead earlier screenings should be done to determine if the procedure is necessary first. If early screenings come back positive an amniocentesis would be the next step.
It will be very interesting to see what becomes of this new approach being used in Canada and if it becomes more common down here in the United States. Given that more and more women are waiting into their 30s and even 40s to have children this could potentially impact a lot of moms.
Did you have an amniocentesis when you were pregnant? Was it deemed necessary or just done because you were over 35? What are your thoughts on the frequent use of this procedure?