Traditional pregnancy a thing of the past

September 5, 2017, University of Otago
Traditional pregnancy a thing of the past

Having a baby may never be the same again as increasingly sophisticated genetic testing is likely to raise thorny ethical issues, according to a new report.

The lead author of a New Zealand Law Foundation Report, Dr Jeanne Snelling of the University of Otago's Bioethics Centre and Faculty of Law, says pregnant women now face a bewildering world of .

"Genetic testing in the reproductive context is a particularly high-stakes endeavour. It directly affects a woman's experience of pregnancy, and may contribute to a decision not to transfer an embryo or to terminate an established pregnancy," she says.

The looks at a number of rapidly evolving genetic technologies that a woman may be offered, either during pregnancy or regarding embryos created by IVF (in-vitro fertilisation).

The technologies examined include:

  • Non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT), which enables foetal information to be gleaned from a maternal blood as early as 10 weeks into pregnancy
  • Chromosomal microarray testing that may be performed at about 18 weeks following invasive amniocentesis
  • Preimplantation genetic testing of IVF embryos involving the latest high-resolution, next generation sequencing

"A common feature of all of these tests is that they enable an increasing and significant amount of health-related information to be derived, compared with traditional prenatal tests, and all are associated with particular technical, ethical and legal challenges.

"The report considers how this new landscape reignites debates about the implications of new for women and how it affects the experience of pregnancy.

"It also considers the potential for expanded screening and testing programmes becoming more routine, and the implications for informed consent, as well as concerns regarding the effects of extended reproductive genetic testing on people with disabilities."

Dr Snelling says there is a "common assumption" that more information is always better.

"That is not always borne out in the empirical studies of women's experiences.

"One recurring theme is the pressing need to ensure women and their partners have a genuine choice to accept or decline expanded screening or testing, and that those who do undertake it are provided with the necessary professional advice to ensure they are sufficiently informed, prepared and supported throughout.

"Expanded screening and testing is likely to not only affect reproductive outcomes, but also women's of conception and in the future. The major issue is how all these technologies should be integrated into clinical practice here," Dr Snelling says.

Explore further: Obstetric providers need greater support for new prenatal screening test

Related Stories

Obstetric providers need greater support for new prenatal screening test

August 4, 2017
A new study shows most New Zealand obstetric providers need more support when providing a revolutionary genetic prenatal screening test because of its complexity and because it is not publicly funded.

Supporting women's autonomy in prenatal testing

August 10, 2017
Noninvasive fetal genetic sequencing done early in pregnancy is poised to become a routine part of prenatal care. While it could offer patients substantial benefits, there is a risk that it will be integrated into care "without ...

ACOG recommends use of carrier screening before pregnancy

February 27, 2017
(HealthDay)—The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends use of carrier screening for all women, according to two Committee Opinions published in the March issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

New pregnancy testing technique needs limits says ethics body

February 28, 2017
A new report on non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) by the UK's Nuffield Council on Bioethics expresses concerns about the way the test is being sold by private providers. In addition, the Council calls for better information ...

Tips offered for management of genetic conditions in pregnancy

September 26, 2015
(HealthDay)—Management of genetic conditions during pregnancy may require a multidisciplinary approach, according to a Committee Opinion from the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) published in the October ...

ACOG OKs cell free DNA prenatal testing for high-risk women

November 30, 2012
(HealthDay)—Cell free fetal DNA testing is an effective screening tool for fetal aneuploidy and should be offered to high-risk women, but should not form part of routine prenatal laboratory assessment, according to a Committee ...

Recommended for you

Rise in preterm births linked to clinical intervention

January 18, 2018
Research at the University of Adelaide shows preterm births in South Australia have increased by 40 percent over 28 years and early intervention by medical professionals has resulted in the majority of the increase.

New report calls into question effectiveness of pregnancy anti-nausea drug

January 17, 2018
Previously unpublished information from the clinical trial that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration relied on to approve the most commonly prescribed medicine for nausea in pregnancy indicates the drug is not effective, ...

New study finds 'baby brain' is real, but the cause remains mysterious

January 15, 2018
So-called "baby brain" refers to increased forgetfulness, inattention, and mental "fogginess" reported by four out of five pregnant women. These changes in brain function during pregnancy have long been recognised in midwifery ...

Sleep quality improves with help of incontinence drug

January 12, 2018
A drug used to curtail episodes of urinary incontinence in women also improves quality of sleep, a researcher at the Stanford University School of Medicine reports.

Frozen embryos result in just as many live births in IVF

January 10, 2018
Freezing and subsequent transfer of embryos gives infertile couples just as much of a chance of having a child as using fresh embryos for in vitro fertilization (IVF), research from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and Adelaide, ...

Study suggests air pollution breathed in the months before and after conception increases chance of birth defects

January 8, 2018
A team of researchers with the University of Cincinnati and Cincinnati Children's Hospital has found evidence that indicates that pre-and post-pregnant women living in an area with air pollution are at an increased risk of ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.