12. You Should Also Know

Down Syndrome

Nearly every pregnant woman receives information on Down syndrome. Older women have traditionally been offered various tests to determine whether their fetus is affected by the condition.

Down syndrome was given its name by British physician J. Langdon Down in the 19th century. He found babies born with the syndrome have an extra chromosome 21; this is called aneuploidy. The normal number of chromosomes in humans is 46. With Down syndrome, an individual has 47 chromosomes.

Down syndrome is the most common chromosome abnormality and the most common cause of mental retardation. It occurs in about 1 in 800 births. Those born with Down syndrome today can live fairly long lives. Some women are at higher risk of giving birth to a child with Down syndrome, including older women, those who have given birth previously to a child with Down syndrome and those who have Down syndrome.

Many tests are available that screen for Down syndrome in a developing fetus. Tests include:

• maternal alpha-fetoprotein test

• triple-screen test

• quad-screen test

• nuchal translucency screening

• ultrasound

Tests to diagnose Down syndrome include amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling (CVS).

ACOG Recommendations. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends all pregnant women be offered screening for Down syndrome, regardless of their age. In the past, testing for Down syndrome was usually offered mainly to women over age 35 and others who were at risk. Even though many women would not consider terminating a pregnancy with a Down-syndrome child, it’s important to know this information before baby’s birth so specialized care can be planned for delivery.

Although the condition occurs at a higher frequency in older mothers, the majority of babies born with Down syndrome are born to younger women. Younger women give birth to a larger number of babies, therefore, a larger number of babies with Down syndrome are delivered to younger women. Eighty percent of babies born with Down syndrome are born to women under age 35.

If your healthcare provider offers you this screening test, consider it. Ask any questions you may have about the condition, and, together with your partner, decide whether to have the test. This information is most useful when screening is done during the first trimester.

Down Syndrome Children Are Special. People want to know if there are any positive aspects of giving birth to a child with Down syndrome. The answer is “Yes!”

A child born with Down syndrome can bring a special, valuable quality of life into the world. Down children are well known for the love and joy they bring to their families and friends. They remind us of the pleasure in doing simple tasks when they learn new skills. They embody the concept of unconditional love, and we can often learn how to cope and to grow as we interact with them. Many families are on waiting lists to adopt children with Down syndrome.

Rearing a child with Down syndrome can be challenging, but many who have faced this challenge are positive about it. If you have a child with Down syndrome, you may work harder for every small advance in your child’s life. You may experience frustration and feelings of helplessness at times, but every parent has these feelings at some time.

All parents-to-be should know the following facts about children born with Down syndrome. The average IQ for a child with Down syndrome is between 60 and 70. Most are in the mildly retarded range. Some children with Down syndrome have normal IQs. IQ scores for those with Down syndrome have risen steadily in the last 100 years. Less than 5% of those with Down syndrome are severely to profoundly retarded.

The reading levels of those with Down syndrome who are in special-education programs in public schools range from kindergarten to 12th grade. The average is about 3rd grade.

Nearly 90% of all those with Down syndrome are employable as adults. Most adults with Down syndrome are capable of living independently or in group homes. People with Down syndrome have an average life expectancy of about 55 years, if they survive infancy.

13. Fetoscopy

Fetoscopy provides a view of the baby and placenta inside your uterus. In some cases, abnormalities and problems can be detected and corrected.

The goal of fetoscopy is to correct a problem before it worsens, which could keep a baby from developing normally. A physician can see some problems more clearly with fetoscopy than with ultrasound.

The test is done by placing a scope, like the one used in laparoscopy, through the abdomen. The procedure is similar to amniocentesis, but the fetoscope is larger than the needle used for amniocentesis.

If your healthcare provider suggests fetoscopy, ask about possible risks, advantages and disadvantages of the procedure. The test should be done only by someone experienced in the technique. Risk of miscarriage is 3 to 4% with this procedure. It is not available everywhere. If you have fetoscopy and are Rh-negative, you should receive RhoGAM after the procedure.

14. Chorionic Villus Sampling

Chorionic villus sampling (CVS) is a highly accurate diagnostic test used to detect genetic abnormalities. Sampling is done early in pregnancy, usually between the 9th and 11th weeks. The test offers an advantage over amniocentesis because it is done much earlier, and results are available in about 1 week. If a pregnancy will be terminated, it can be done earlier and may carry fewer risks to the woman.

Chorionic villus sampling involves placing an instrument through the cervix or abdomen to remove fetal tissue from the placenta, which can be tested for abnormalities. Over 95% of women who have CVS learn their baby does not have the disorder for which the test was done.

If your healthcare provider recommends CVS, ask about its risks. The test should be performed only by someone experienced in the technique. The risk of miscarriage is small—between 1 and 2%—and the test is considered as safe as amniocentesis. If you have CVS and are Rh-negative, you should receive RhoGAM after the procedure.

15. Find Out Baby’s Sex This Week?

You may have seen gender tests advertised that use your blood or a urine sample to determine baby’s sex. They are often offered on the Internet. But experts agree tests available today may not offer accurate results.

One over-the-counter test claims it can predict your baby’s sex as early as this week. Called the IntelliGender’s Gender Prediction Test, it uses a simple urine test to provide immediate results that indicate baby’s gender, based on a color match. Green indicates boy, and orange indicates girl.

However, before you rush off to buy the test, you should realize test results are actually only about 80% accurate. They only indicate the possibility of determining whether baby is a girl or a boy.

To do the test, you use your first morning urine. You need to avoid sexual relations for at least 48 hours before taking the test, and you can’t be taking any hormones, such as progesterone.

The Pink or Blue test is another at-home test developed to determine baby’s gender by examining DNA of the mom-to-be. Research has shown fetal DNA can be found in a mother’s bloodstream. A woman sends a small sample of her blood to the lab, and results of the test (boy or girl) are sent to the parents-to-be. The makers of the product claim the test is 95% accurate and can predict a baby’s sex as early as 6 weeks after conception.

Dad Tip

Are you concerned about sex during pregnancy? You both may have questions, so talk about them together and with your partner’s healthcare provider. Occasionally during a pregnancy you’ll need to avoid intercourse. However, pregnancy is an opportunity for increased closeness and intimacy for you as a couple. Sex can be a positive part of this experience.

Some medical authorities are concerned some couples may consider ending a pregnancy because of baby’s sex, based on the result of these tests. If you have questions or concerns, discuss them with your healthcare provider.

16. Exercise for Week 10


Kneel on your hands and knees, with your hands directly below your shoulders and knees directly under your hips. Inhale as you raise your head and gaze forward. Then exhale as you slowly bring your head down, round your back and shoulders and tuck in your tummy. Do 4 times. Stretches back and tummy muscles, and increases flexibility.


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