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Think Out Loud

Wrongful Birth

Pete Springer/OPB

If you are pregnant and over 35 years old it is likely that your OBGYN will suggest you see a genetic counselor. I can tell you that appointment in kind of nerve-wracking. The counselor goes over all your risk factors then tells you how likely it is that you could have a baby with some sort of genetic disorder, most commonly Down syndrome. Then she’ll talk about all the screening and diagnostic tests available to you.

They range from the least invasive screening — a blood test that provides your personal chance that your fetus could have some sort of abnormality; to chorionic villus sampling (better known as CVS) in which cells are actually removed from the placenta and tested to see if they have any abnormalities. CVS is done between ten and 12 weeks into a pregnancy — early enough for some people to consider aborting if there is a problem. CVS is considered 99 percent accurate.

Deborah Levy had a CVS test when she was pregnant. The results came back normal, but when the baby was born she and her husband, Ariel, discovered that their daughter did, in fact, have Down syndrome. When their daughter was a couple of years old, the Levys sued Legacy’s Center for Maternal-Fetal Medicine for the costs involved with raising and taking care of her. A few days ago they won and were awarded $2.9 million. This is known as “wrongful birth” case and is very uncommon.

What do you think of the results of this case? What is your experience with genetic counseling? Have you chosen to undergo genetic screening or testing? What test did you choose? And why?

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