The Impact of Doctor Bias on Prenatal Testing: Empowering Yourself to Make Informed Choices
Doctors can be fantastic advocates for you by listening to your concerns, providing clinical assessments and helping you access the care and treatment you need to manage acute or chronic illness symptoms. But what happens when you go to the doctor with a concern that isn’t met with the openness you were hoping for? How can you advocate for yourself and your right to access the care you want?
As expectant parents, many available assessments can help you best prepare for pregnancy and identify possible risks that you may wish to navigate to improve you and your future babies' health. Considerations include lifestyle factors, appropriate dietary supplementation, optimising pre-existing medical conditions, reviewing your past obstetric and gynaecological history, reviewing and optimising your mental health, reviewing current medications and ensuring none are unsafe during pregnancy, and checking vaccinations are up-to-date. It is a long list of things to discuss and check in on.
However, in some cases, more history is needed to provide the whole picture and the reassurance that was once believed. Another critical aspect of preparing for pregnancy is understanding that all healthy individuals, regardless of ethnicity or family history, carry changes in their DNA. Depending on the combination of changes, these could impact the health outcomes of their children.
Genetic counselling and testing can provide valuable information about your baby's health and help you make informed decisions regarding your pregnancy. However, it's essential to be aware that the recommendations for tests can be influenced by a doctor's biases. In this blog post, we will explore how doctor bias can impact the tests offered to you and why understanding your options is crucial. We will also discuss ways to advocate for what you want, ensuring that your choices align with your values and preferences.
Understanding Doctor Bias: Doctors, like all individuals, carry their own biases, which may inadvertently influence the tests they offer. Factors such as personal experiences, training, and professional affiliations can all contribute to these biases. It's essential to recognise that doctors are not immune to these influences, and their recommendations may not always align with your desires or beliefs.
Did you know that doctors are supposed to inform all expectant parents about the availability of genetic carrier screening? Yet many do not. At Eugene, we do not require a doctor's referral to access the care and support you want.
The Importance of Understanding Your Options: Being aware of the various prenatal testing options available to you is vital. Different tests carry different benefits, risks, and limitations. Some tests provide comprehensive genetic information, while others focus on specific conditions. Understanding your options empowers you to make informed decisions aligning with your values, beliefs, and circumstances.
Advocating for What You Want:
Research: Educate yourself about the different types of tests available, their benefits, limitations, and associated risks. Reliable sources such as medical literature, reputable websites, and seeking advice from genetic counsellors can provide valuable insights.
Communicate Openly: You can communicate openly and honestly with your healthcare provider. Clearly express your desires, concerns, and preferences regarding prenatal testing. By sharing your perspectives, you can actively engage in a collaborative decision-making process.
Seek Multiple Opinions: If you feel that your doctor's recommendations are biased or do not align with your preferences, consider seeking a second opinion. Consulting a genetic counsellor or healthcare professional can provide alternative perspectives and help you make a more informed choice.
Build a Support Network: Connect with other expectant parents or support groups who have gone through similar experiences. Sharing your thoughts and concerns can provide emotional support and help you navigate the decision-making process more confidently.
Trust Your Instincts: Remember that you are the ultimate decision-maker for your pregnancy journey. Trust your instincts and intuition when making choices about prenatal testing. It's essential to prioritise what feels right for you and your family.
Genetic carrier screeningis an essential component of obstetric care, providing valuable insights into your baby's health. Understanding your options, actively communicating your preferences, seeking multiple opinions, and trusting your instincts are powerful tools to advocate for the testing approach that aligns with your values.
Empower yourself with knowledge and take an active role in shaping your pregnancy journey, ensuring the best possible outcome for you and your baby.