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The Triple Screen Test is a prenatal screening test that looks for several hormones and a protein by taking a blood sample.

Along with taking other significant risk factors into account, the blood test is used to calculate the approximate chance that your baby is affected by certain genetic disorders. What are the reasons to say no to the Triple Screen Test during pregnancy?

Why the Triple Screen test is now a routine

Before we look at possible reasons why someone wouldn't want to have the Triple Test performed during their pregnancy, let's discuss why the Triple Screen test is now part of routine prenatal care in most industrialized countries. See Prenatal care what tests you can expect for more info about the other recommended procedures. First off, the Triple Test looks for three things (obviously). They are AFP or alpha-fetoprotein, and the hormones estriol and hCG. Abnormal hormone levels, together with other risk factors like ethnicity, maternal weight, and age, can indicate that the baby may be suffering from some kind of genetic disorder. Elevated AFP levels can, sometimes, point to spina bifida or other neural tube defects. The most convincing reason to take part in the Triple Screen Test is the fact that it's basically risk-free. Only a blood sample is needed, and while that's a little unpleasant, it is hardly dangerous. Keep in mind that this is only a screening test, not a diagnostic test.

Why say no to the Triple Test?

The Triple Test is offered to all pregnancy women as part of their prenatal care, generally speaking. Those pregnant women who are over 35, have a family history of birth defects, have used certain unsafe medications or medical treatments while they were pregnant, or who suffered an infection early on during their pregnancy, are especially advised to take the Triple Test. The Triple Screen Test is a screening test only, so the results can only point to the possibility that there is something wrong rather than making a clear diagnosis. The Triple Test is known for a high chance of a false positive, which means that you may be under a lot of stress for no reason at all. Stress itself is, of course, not good during pregnancy. Abnormal test results will normally create the "need" for further diagnostic tests. Amniocentesis, a diagnostic test that is very reliable, does carry the risks that you may have been relieved the Triple Test doesn't have, like the risks of miscarriage, premature labor, or even the slight chance that the needle used to collect amniotic fluid from your uterus actually damages your baby.

Families who know that they would not be carrying out these more invasive tests may have good reason to say no to the Triple Screen Test for their baby. This also includes families who are certain that birth defects in their baby would not be a reason for abortion because let's face it, these diagnostic tests mainly serve the purpose of offering the parents a chance to terminate their pregnancy in case their baby is suffering from a neural tube defect, chromosomal abnormality, or other medical problem.

How do you go about refusing the Triple Test?

You can have a chat about this with your doctor if you are not sure whether or not to go ahead with the Triple Test. You are also, of course, fully entitled to just say no to the test. At the end of the day, these are very personal decisions which you (and your partner) will have to make. Just as you have the right to informed consent, patients have every right to "informed refusal". Also see: Double and triple prenatal tests What are they?

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