Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Why Amniocentesis?

As I have stated several other places on the website and blog, I find Gov. Palin's series of inexplicable - even bizarre - choices made during the birth of Trig Palin on April 17th and 18th extremely troubling. At no point from the start of the process until the end did she behave like someone who was in labor (or "maybe" in labor) with a fifth child and one who had allegedly been diagnosed prenatally with Down's Syndrome.

It's been stated in numerous places that she knew through "early testing" that Trig had Down's Syndrome. Immediately after the birth, articles only stated "early testing," but in an article published in May (links to all of these are available in the website proper) she stated that the testing was done in December.

So why did she have an amnio done? No where on the Internet that I can see has this question been addressed. Without getting too long-winded, there are three basic reasons a family would have amniocentesis performed. The first is to obtain a prenatal diagnosis on a couple fairly common birth defects, specifically Down's Syndrome (trisomy-21)and spina bifida. The second is to test for lung maturity in a case where there is premature labor. The third is to test for specific genetic disorders that might be unique to that family, tests that would not be done routinely. Obviously reason two is out as this was supposedly "early testing." No one can know if in the Palin family there is any genetic problem that would require testing but considering the birth of four healthy children prior, it's probably not likely. This leaves the first reason - routine testing for Down's and spina bifida, and it's pretty routinely recommended for all women over 35.

There is a heated debate in the pro-life community regarding this testing. The majority of strongly pro-life women actually chose to skip the test, regardless of age, since it does increase the risk of miscarriage slightly. (About 1 pregnancy in 200 will miscarry - (official medical term: abort) directly because of the amnio.) For a pro-life woman who will not terminate even if she learns that her child does have Down's, any increased risk is considered unacceptable. Obviously, given Palin's stated beliefs, she falls into the group of women who would never have chosen to terminate a pregnancy.

So then, why do the test? The ONLY reason at that point is to diagnose Down's or spina bifida, two conditions that would push the birth into a higher-risk category, thus allowing the mom to PLAN HER BIRTH ACCORDINGLY!

But not Gov. Palin. What we are now expected to believe is that she had a test done, a test that does carry the risk of miscarriage, for the sole purpose of diagnosing certain conditions that would definitely move her pregnancy into a high risk category. Yet, after RECEIVING this diagnosis, she does... well... nothing. She IGNORES the results completely. We are expected to believe that she continues plans to give birth with a family practice doctor (not an OB) who practices in a rural community hospital 800 miles from her official residence. She goes into some sort of pre-term labor in Dallas, Texas a city with two NICUs (one at Baylor, and one at Presbyterian Hospital) flies to Seattle (a city also with two high risk facilities) flies to Anchorage (with a hospital that has Alaska's ONLY level III NICU) then drives an hour out into the country to give birth in Palmer. Oh, and if this is not enough to swallow, we are supposed to believe that the doctor approved of all of this.

So... I repeat my question. Why did she have the test done in the first place?


Morgan said...

My only guess - given the assumption that Trig is hers - is to prepare herself for the possibility that the baby had a problem. I've know some pro-life people who have an amnio, but it's often after the ultrasound showed markers of Down's. (In Down's syndrome babies the humerus and femurs tend to be shorter)
If Palin had an ultrasound that showed that, she may have had the amnio to confirm. Who knows; maybe she thought "God's will be done" if I take the risk.

But the question remains as to why - once she got the diagnosis - she would risk the baby's health by letting her amniotic fluid leak. Even with a normal birth, the risk of infection is raised. For a child with Down's that already may be at risk for heart problems it seems that such behavior would be adding risk to risk.

No, it doesn't make any sense. Not at all.

West Coast Grrlie Blather said...

Sarah Palin knew she was going to have a high-risk baby. Her behavior was at best inconsistent with this knowledge, and at worst completely irresponsible.