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E. A Call for New Guidelines for Prenatal Diagnostic Testing

Narrator: This is Science Today. Although pregnant women of all ages and risk levels are routinely offered prenatal screening tests, current guidelines recommend the more invasive testing, such as amniocentesis, be reserved for women age 35 and older. Dr. Miriam Kuppermann of the University of California, San Francisco, says this threshold is based on the belief that the likelihood of carrying an affected fetus is equal to the small risk of procedure-related miscarriage.

Kuppermann: There would be clearly reluctance to do a procedure that was more likely to cause a miscarriage than to identify a fetus with Down syndrome. But the problem with that threshold is there is an implicit assumption that those two outcomes would be equally burdensome for the average woman.

Narrator: In a study of pregnant women of all ages, Kuppermann found this was not the case.

Kuppermann: My hope is that the guidelines will be expanded to enable women to make their own informed choices about which test, if any, makes sense for them to undergo.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.