Testing prenatal tests and finding them wanting

Testing prenatal tests and finding them wanting

Screening tests that use human genome sequencing technology to detect the health of fetuses have been a booming business for years and have led pregnant women and their doctors to make some very difficult decisions. The tests are more accurate than traditional blood tests and ultrasounds, but they’re not as accurate as they have been billed, according to the New England Center for Investigative Reporting, which published the findings of a three-month investigation into the tests this weekend at the Boston Globe.

“There is a crucial difference between a test that can detect a potential problem and one reliable enough to diagnose a life-threatening condition for certain. The screening test only does the first,” wrote the Center’s Beth Daley in her report.

Daley says the manufacturers of the tests are overselling the accuracy of their product and “doing little to educate expecting parents or their doctors about the significant risks of false alarms.”

She continues:

Two recent industry-funded studies show that test results indicating a fetus is at high risk for a chromosomal condition can be a false alarm half of the time. And the rate of false alarms goes up the more rare the condition…

The [tests] are not subject to approval by the Food and Drug Administration. Because of a regulatory loophole, the companies operate free of agency oversight and the kind of independent analysis that would validate their accuracy claims. Doctors often get that information from salespeople

It’s another chilling tale of the power the medical-industrial complex exerts in shaping our most intimate decisions and the crucial role oversight plays in protecting the public interest.

A fight to boost regulation on the tests is ongoing. Meantime, doctors say patients should seek out counseling on the genetic prenatal screenings, how they work, what they mean and how to interpret the results.

Read the whole story at the New England Center for Investigative Reporting.

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About the Author

John Tomasic

Writer, editor, teacher, web wrangler. He has worked for art, business, culture, politics publications, five universities and a UN war crimes commission. @johntomasic
jtomasic@coloradoindependent.com | 720-432-2128 |

1 Comment

  1. Kathy Sincere on said:

    What is all the hullabaloo about prenatal testing to see if you are having a healthy baby! For the great majority of mothers, what she is eating, drinking and injecting into her body is the basis for the health of her baby.
    The same doctors who advocate human genome sequencing are also urging pregnant women to get their flu shot. According to a 2013 report by the Department of Justice Vaccine Court, the Flu Vaccine is the most dangerous vaccine in the U.S. based on settled cases for injuries. For the period of 8/16/2013 through 11/15/2013, the greatest percentage of damages compensated were for the influenza vaccine. Of the 70 vaccine-injury cases compensated, 42 of them were for the flu vaccine. These percentages held true for two subsequent reports in 2014. The June 15, 2014 report covering a 3-month period shows that 78 cases were awarded settlements for vaccine injuries, with 55 of the settlements being for the flu shot, including one death. According to the FDA, only about 10% of vaccine injuries are actually reported to VAERS (Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System). Thousands of injuries and deaths are never brought before the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Court.
    The original referenced article from the Boston Globe regarding pregnancy screening tests states that “doctors often get…information from salespeople.” The same holds true for doctor’s belief that vaccines are the Holy Grail; they have a blind trust in data provided by pharmaceutical companies.
    The flu shot contains mercury, a well-known neurotoxin, egg protein and chicken embryo which can cause food allergies, formaldehyde, and a lovely stew of other adjuvants that will impact the fetus. Doctors are injecting pregnant women with the flu vaccine with no counseling as to side-effects or toxicity. The mercury adjuvant alone should be enough to ban it for pregnant women. Mercury in the form of thimerosol has been removed from most childhood vaccines, yet it remains in the flu vaccine, which is recommended for babies, young children, pregnant women, the elderly, and just about the entire population. Mercury is a well-known neurotoxin but it is such an effective preservative for the flu vaccine that its use is continued. The government’s position on this matter is that mercury in vaccines is safe.
    Senior CDC scientist Dr. William Thompson has recently come forward as a whistleblower to reveal that the CDC has withheld data from vaccine safety studies that did not support the official CDC position on vaccine safety. In a recorded phone conversation with Dr. Brian Hooker, Thompson stated that INJECTING MERCURY INTO PREGNANT WOMEN CREATES A “CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER” TO THE UNBORN CHILD. The CDC whistleblower stated that mercury in vaccines causes “tics” in children, and that these tics are four times more prevalent in kids with autism.
    Neurological harm to the fetus may not be a “life-threatening” condition but it certainly creates life-long devastation for both the child and his parents. Doctors who ponder human genome sequencing need to also face the facts regarding mercury poisoning and pregnant women.

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