In Ontario, the Government fully reimburses non-invasive pre-natal screening tests (NIPS) for Down syndrome in the case of “high risk” patients. In Quebec, however, couples pay for their own NIPS test. It costs approximately $500. The Health Minister is considering incorporating it in his current screening policy.
Doctor François Audibert, Head of Maternal and Foetal Medicine at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Montreal University, explains that prenatal medicine “is filled with doubt and uncertainty”. He pointed out that prenatal tests “can be revealing but often tell us very little about the severity of a suspected problem (…) It’s one of the rare facets of medicine that leads us to choose whether or not our patient lives”.
An ultrasound scan is the first step “on what could be a slippery slope”. Hundreds of potential diagnoses can begin with an ultrasound scan”, he explained. “An ultrasound scan is the best way of instilling fear and dread in a pregnant woman”, he repeated, echoing the sentiments of Doctor Roy Filly, Emeritus Professor of Radiology, Obstetrics, Gynaecology and Reproductive Science at the University of California. Finally, “only 2 to 3% of children will have anomalies, ‘thereby making mountains out of molehills’. In short, a lot of pointless worry…”.