Study: Inaccurate Prenatal Tests Lead Some Moms To Abort Healthy Fetuses

December 22, 2014  |  

Inaccurate prenatal testing results could be leading moms-to-be to unnecessarily terminate healthy pregnancies, a new study finds.

The study, which was conducted by the New England Center for Investigative Reporting, found that some women are choosing to terminate their pregnancies based on the results of prenatal tests that scan fetuses for genetic conditions. Startlingly, this new report finds that these tests can be inaccurate up to 50% of the time.

Non-invasive prenatal testing, aka cell-free DNA testing, examines the DNA found in a baby’s placenta and tests for conditions such as Down syndrome and chromosomal disorders. The tests can be performed nine weeks into a pregnancy and it has been claimed that they have a 99% accuracy rate. However, researchers say that this figure is extremely misleading because it does not count false positives.

Bizarrely, the study also found a correlation between the rarity of certain conditions and the increased rate of false positives.

NYU Langone Medical Center obstetrics and gynecology professor Dr. Iffath Hoskins suggests that more invasive testing should occur before a decision is made to terminate a pregnancy once positive results are received from one of these tests.

“Nobody should do anything based on the screening test,” Hoskins warned.

There have also been incidents where moms have received false negatives after undergoing testing only to learn after birth that their babies have been diagnosed with some sort of disorder.

“You have to understand the limitations and you have to realize they’re screening tests and not diagnostic,” said Elizabeth Daley, a reporter with the New England Center for Investigative Reporting.

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