The commonly performed quad-screen test determines whether or not the risk of a genetic disease in an unborn child is greater based on a mother's age. If that test determines a mom is at risk, amniocentesis can be performed. Amniocentesis is a process in which amniotic fluid, the fluid that surrounds and protects a baby during pregnancy, is removed from the uterus to be tested. Doctors then examine the fetal cells in the fluid to determine if there are any genetic abnormalities in the chromosome pairs.
9NEWS medical expert Dr. John Torres says parents should decide the route that's best for them. He advises that parents look into their family histories to see if there are patterns of genetic disorders. Parents should also take the age of the mother into consideration when deciding whether or not to get the tests done.
"The ethical problems come in. What do parents do with that information?" Dr. Torres said.
Dr. Torres says getting the test shouldn't be a spontaneous decision; rather, it should be taken into careful consideration. Parents can choose to receive counseling on the issue as well.
"Before you get the test, you want to make sure you know what you're getting into," Dr. Torres said.
Some experts advise to not get the test because of the ramifications that come with it. Others say the test can be a valuable tool for parents to find out about what their baby's life will be like before he or she is born.
Alexis Bridenbraugh contributed to this report.
(KUSA-TV © 2012 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)