New Study: Miscarriage Testing Is Delivering False Positive Results

When I was 7 weeks pregnant with my son, Mason, my OB sent me to the hospital for a viability test. She was concerned because my son’s markers showed that he was about a week behind in growth. I had to wait an entire week for the appointment and it was nerve-racking. At that point I had only known I was pregnant for two weeks, but I already loved my son so much I couldn’t imagine losing him. The smart, compassionate doctor that we saw at the hospital assured us that our baby was absolutely fine. Fortunately she knew that not all babies grow at the same rate, and Mason was born perfectly healthy 33 weeks later. (That’s him, above, when he was just 3 days old.)

I was reminded of that horrible week last Saturday when a good friend texted me that she was bleeding at 8 weeks pregnant. She called her OB and was instructed to come in for an ultrasound on Monday. She was terrified that she had miscarried her baby and I was terrified for her.  Monday afternoon, tears of joy ran down my friend’s face as the same doctor who assured me that my pregnancy was on track assured her that hers was, too.

Both my friend and I were fortunate to have positive outcomes from our pregnancy scares, but as The Atlantic reports this week, not all women are so lucky. According to a new study, current miscarriage testing can yield false positive results. “The guidelines doctors use to determine whether a miscarriage has occurred or not are not as accurate as they should be,” reports The Atlantic. “This can mean that perfectly healthy pregnancies may be receiving unnecessary intervention when doctors mistakenly believe they have ended….Depending on the doctor making the measurement, up to a 20 percent variation can exist for one fetus at one point in time. Therefore, if the first measurement overshot the actual size of the fetus, and the follow-up measurement undershot it, a doctor could erroneously conclude that zero growth had occurred. What’s more, according to the new research, even perfectly healthy fetuses can show no growth between the two measurement time points.”

I was shocked to read this study last night — it had never occurred to me that miscarriage testing could be so flawed. Was there a time when your doctor thought you might have miscarried, but you didn’t? Share your stories here.

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  1. [...] Miscarriage testing is delivering false results (Parents.com) [...]

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