If there was a problem with your unborn baby would you want to know? A simple blood test can help determine a child's risk of developmental issues, but it's not fool proof. Despite not being conclusive it's still the best way to develop a plan of treatment for mom and baby.
Meet Harper Hilbrands. "She just turned three months on Saturday and is growing and smiling and cooing!" said Aimee Hilbrands.
This little bundle of joy joins a crowded household with older siblings Peyton and Hailee. After the first two, pregnancy becomes a routine and just like with her other children Aimee decided to have a quad marker test done on Harper.
"When they asked if I wanted the test done with her I said yeah sure not having any worries and then when Dr. Dickes called and said that my markers were high it was quite shocking." said Hilbrands.
The quad marker screen measures the levels of four hormones in a pregnant woman's blood. Results of the test help doctors determine if a baby has a higher risk developing chromosomal conditions such as Down Syndrome or Spina Bifida.
"It's just a screening test and if it comes back abnormal it doesn't mean your baby has it, there are other test that we do in order to confirm that diagnosis." said Dr. Jessica Dickes, an obstetric & gynecologic physician at Avera St. Luke's Hospital.
In Aimee's case, she was referred to Sioux Falls to have a high resolution ultrasound. Those pictures showed Dr. Dickes and Aimee that Harper was growing just fine.
"It was a false positive there was nothing on the ultrasound that showed any kind of abnormality." said Hilbrands.
Now your first reaction is probably: why even do this test if it only reveals if you are at higher risk, not if your baby has the condition. In short, it's the first step to developing a plan of treatment for baby.
"I tell my patients that it's a completely personal choice whether you decide to do it or not it's just that we have all this technology available now to be able to help people out if it's something they feel strongly about knowing and preparing for a time." said Dr. Dickes.
For Aimee the screen qualified her for a high-res ultrasound. If that hadn't worked she could have had an amniocentesis to collect fluid from the placenta to get definitive answers. While the false positive was worrisome, Aimee says knowing something was better than nothing.
"If you are somebody that wants to know if it's a possibility that you could have downs or a heart defect or something like that then definitely go for the test." said Hilbrands.
When it comes to babies there are a lot of things you can't prepare for. With tests like the quad screen, their health is one thing you can. There is a test that can pull a baby's DNA from the mother's blood and give a conclusive risk assessment but the costs right now are too high for most parents to afford without a positive quad marker test done first. For more information just call 877-AT-AVERA.