Hundreds of Healthy Pregnancies Terminated Each Year Due to Test Errors

baby toesGetting news that the baby you are carrying -- the one you start loving the minute you see two lines on a pregnancy test -- has stopped growing and that you have miscarried is one of the most heartbreaking things a woman faces. But finding out that the doctor made a mistake and terminated what would have been a healthy pregnancy is unimaginable. Yet new research suggests that's what's happening to hundreds of women each year.

An article in The Atlantic highlights a study that found a strong lack of accuracy in early pregnancy viability tests. Researchers say that too often the measurements of the fetus's growth are inaccurate, and that some fetuses can be healthy without showing any growth during the standard time they measure for viability. That means women get the heartbreaking news their pregnancy won't progress and often undergo termination procedures at their doctor's recommendation when they could have gone on to have a healthy baby. It's unfathomable that this happens.

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How often does it happen? According to a report from Imperial College London, in the U.K., approximately 400 miscarriage test errors occur each year. According to Time, that means as many as 1 in 23 women in the United States may be wrongly diagnosed with a miscarriage based on our test guidelines here.

I have had those tests multiple times, and multiple times I've held my breath to see if the fetus had grown to the degree the doctors say is necessary for a healthy pregnancy. Twice, they did; several other times,  they didn't. And now, I and plenty of other women are left wondering ... what if?

Doctors say they will work to revise the guidelines, which doesn't help those who will always wonder. But going forward this news should serve to hopefully save viable pregnancies and save families from an unnecessary loss.

Does this news about the inaccuracy of early pregnancy viability tests shock you?


Image via surlygirl/Flickr

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