For decades, OB-GYNs have offered prenatal tests to expectant moms to uncover potential issues, including Down syndrome, before they give birth. However, sometests, such as amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling, carry health risks, including miscarriage. For some women, the risks can be greater than the potential benefits from information they would gain.
Evidence now suggests that women who are well-informed about the pros and cons are more likely to decline testing, even when the tests are free, indicating that the average mother-to-be might not have all the facts.
In a study published in JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers worked with 710 women at medical centers around San Francisco. Half of them received standard care, including a focus on testing for women over age 35. The others were offered a computerized guide to prenatal testing and presented with the choice of having prenatal tests free of charge.