Dear Bundoo: My husband wants a genetic screening, but I don’t!

What happens when one mom-to-be doesn’t want genetic screening but dad does? These future parents are at odds over their unborn child. How should they handle it? See what Dr. Jen says.

Dear Bundoo, 

My husband and I are expecting our first baby. We’re really excited. We’ve worked so hard to get this far. At one point, we thought we were going to adopt because we couldn’t conceive, but then we tried another round of IVF, and it worked. We’re both professionals with successful careers, but the downside is that we’re both older than “they” recommend. My husband is 42, and I’m 41. My husband thinks we need to do a genetic screening and amniocentesis because he’s worried the baby might have something wrong. I’m at 19 weeks, and there’s no reason to think there’s anything wrong. But even if there was, I don’t want to do the screening and amnio because I guess I don’t care if there’s anything “wrong.” We worked so hard to get pregnant at all that even if the test results did show something, it wouldn’t change anything. He says I’m being irresponsible and that it never hurts to find out. I really don’t know what to do. What would you tell a couple in our situation?

—Nothing wrong with my baby


Dear Nothing wrong,

Congrats on your pregnancy! What wonderful news after such struggles. As for the topic of genetic screening, this can sometimes be a sticky situation when your kind of scenario arises, where one person wants it and the other doesn’t. I am going off the assumption that you didn’t do any preimplantation genetic screening with your embryos. Therefore, knowing some basic stats may help. A woman of your age has about a 1 in 100 chance of carrying a fetus with Down’s syndrome and a 1 in 50 chance of having a fetus with any major genetic condition (of course, if you used donor eggs from a younger donor then you would change those stats to whatever her age is rather than yours).

For some women, those numbers alone are enough to make them want to screen, but for others, it still doesn’t matter. You seem to be in that latter group which is totally fine—this is a highly personal decision! However, you do need to consider your husband’s feelings as he is a parent, too. If the baby you are carrying does have a genetic condition, he may need the time to prepare for it. Even if this doesn’t make sense to you, it might be his way of preparing to be the best father he can be. I would have a very honest conversation with him where you try to see his perspective. If not, some very serious resentment may result.

Answered by Jennifer Lincoln, MD, Bundoo OB/GYN

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About Jon VanZile, Bundoo Content Director

Jon VanZile is the Content Director at Bundoo and edits the weekly Dear Bundoo column.


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