For some pregnant women, the potential risks of getting an amniocentesis (about 1 in every 200 to 400 cause a miscarriage) outweigh the benefits: Detecting possible birth defects like spina bifida, Down syndrome, and cystic fibrosis. Having known someone who had a post-amnio miscarriage, I was too scared to get the test done during either of my pregnancies.
But now that I know getting an amnio could be more beneficial than I thought, I might do things differently if I were to get pregnant again. Especially considering that the test could end up saving my child's life years down the road.
You've probably heard of cord blood banking, where samples of umbilical cord blood are taken after you give birth and frozen for later use. (Cord blood contains stem cells, an incredibly effective treatment for childhood cancer, among other diseases.) The only downside, so far, to cord blood banking is the cost: Into the thousands for harvesting, plus a yearly storage fee.
Turns out the amniotic fluid in your uterus contains the same live stem cells found in cord blood and it's cheaper to extract and preserve them: Since more fluid than necessary is extracted for an amniocentesis, doctors send the surplus to a bank to be stored instead of just throwing it away, which is what usually happens.
So if you're getting an amniocentesis done anyway, hanging on to the extra amniotic fluid seems like a no-brainer: None of us like to think about our kids getting cancer, but what if? Stem cell treatment is basically the best thing we've got going insofar as a "cure for cancer." Imagine how many moms would rest easier at night knowing that should the unthinkable happen, their child would at least have the most promising treatment option available to him.
Would you consider banking your amniotic fluid?
Image via Daniel Lobo/Flickr