In Utero Genetic Testing

I’m in Taipei. My Taiwanese girlfriend is likely carrying our first child (will get definite results soon). If this is the case, I wanted to do some preliminary testing for a few safeguards against birth defects.

I know that doctors can perform genetic tests for a series of genetic anomalies while the fetus is in utero. Is this a standard practice at all OB/GYN hospitals, or are there only a few specialists in the country (preferably in Taipei) who perform the procedure?

If we anticipate a problem, we’ll probably terminate the pregnancy, and I know that it’s much safer to do that as early as possible. If the baby is likely to be healthy, we’ll probably have the child in Taiwan.

Do any parents know if and where we can get these major tests?

I know that some tests cannot be done until after the 12th week, some the 20th. I recall that the window between test and possible termination is relatively narrow, and that there is a small risk of miscarriage or other problems associated with amniocentesis. Unless you’re looking for a specific, unusual test, I believe you shouldn’t have a problem getting it done at any major hospital in Taipei.

Doctors in Taiwan are obsessed with tests and will be only too happy to stick needles in your gf until you tell them to stop. I really recommend you don’t do it. Three reasons:

  1. The tests themselves are highly invasive and have not been proven to be safe. There is some evidence they can cause problems with the pregnancy.
  2. The tests do not actually test for genetic abnormalities. They test for chemical markers associated with genetic abnormalities. As such, they have a very poor false-positive and false-negative rate. You cannot rely on the results. Unfortunately, many Taiwanese doctors think the tests are infallible (“it’s over this number therefore the baby has a problem”) and will pressure you to abort.
  3. If you wait, an ultrasound scan is better (somewhat … although also not proven safe). Bear in mind that some apparent defects, such as heart-valve issues, fix themselves after birth; my mum worked as a nurse in the 60’s/70’s and saw many cases of babies which weren’t quite right at birth but turned out just fine after a few weeks of TLC.

I have also heard rumours of a few rogue doctors who have Nazi-like opinions of mixed-race kids and will find an excuse for an abortion. It is only that - a rumour - but a colleague of mine had a very bad experience. Doctor said baby had Down’s syndrome. Baby aborted. Baby perfectly healthy.

If you two are healthy, have no known genetic diseases, and don’t live near a nuclear power plant, the chances of anything being wrong are pretty slim. Don’t poke around in there unless you have a reason to suspect a problem.

Most Doctors in Taiwan are well qualified, the hospitals are setup with good equipment and professional ultrasound systems etc. The problem with getting tests done is that many doctors are afraid of lawsuit, especially for amniocentesis which has a small risk of causing abortion or birth defect if handled incorrectly. Sometimes you need to check a few clinics.
Finley is right in that many tests aren’t very accurate at present but the older the mother , or a history of abnormalities in the family, the more you might want to do all the tests.
Abortion rules are looser in Taiwan but it’s obviously very difficult to go through later on in the pregnancy.

Finley is right in that many tests aren’t very accurate at present but the older the mother … the more you might want to do all the tests.[/quote]

This is one of a few reasons why I’m looking to do these tests.

We are expecting our second. We went to a OBN/GYN in Dunhua south road. The guy communicates very clearly, he is to the point and I have referred two other friends to him. He does the required tests but he is very clear abou what they indicate and how reliable they are. PM me if you want the address.

uhhh…is marriage in the plans there sport?

first of all, find a good doctor. try to find a good ob clinic vs. a ‘big’ hospital…everytime we went for a checkup we got an ultrasound. in the west, an ultrasound takes months for an appointment. having ultrasounds all the time gives you peace of mind. i would be a bit more positive about the health of your baby. don’t worry about all the potential problems, as long as the mother eats right and gets plenty of rest things should be okay…and she should stay off the fuckin scooter when she is pregnant!!!
when your mom was pregnant with you they didn’t have access to the technology like today. did you turn out okay??

My wife insisted on having it done for our youngest daughter, it was not nice I think, however sle slept better afterwards.

The doctor seemed ok.

Yeah don’t be down on the doctors or facilities here, the facilities in many cases are better than the west and as previous poster said an ultrasound EVERY visit is normal here, not in the West. There are many private obs/gyn operating so take your pick. The private clinics have rooms for birth and recovery (zuo yue zi), sometimes the better rooms in public hospitals book up. Some people opt to have the birth in the larger hospitals just in case there is a complication, but probably not much difference.

Hey…no one has said ‘Congratulations’ yet!

Congratulations Ehophi!

I’m in the same boat as you although my girlfriend is much further along ((due in June) actually she has been my wife for 4 days but im still getting used to it)
We didn’t have an amniocentesis as it is a bit risky and there are other non invasive tests that can be done. If one of the other tests had indicated a positive result for a genetic defect we would probably have had a amniocentesis done.

Down syndrome has a greater risk of occurring the older a women gets.
Is your girlfriend over the age of 34?

I wouldn’t stress to much about it. All these tests and stuff are pretty routine for every pregnancy.
The best advice is to find a good doctor. We have a good one in Taoyuan. I’m fortunate in that he also speaks English which makes me feel a bit more involved in everything. Also they asked us if we want a copy of the certificate in English which was nice.
Maybe you speak mandarin. More power to ya.

Good point. Purely from a legal standpoint it’s a great idea. If your girlfriend’s ID card says she is unmarried then your name won’t appear on the birth certificate as the father. You’ll have to get a DNA test to prove it’s your child if you want to get your bundle of joy recognized by your home country.
The 2nd reason is that without father status you’ll have no rights in regards to your child. No doubt some of the regulars will point you to one the vast number of horror stories on this forum about foreign father’s being denied access to their child. Gripping reading.

ok, good luck :slight_smile:

[quote=“Askr”] Hey…no one has said ‘Congratulations’ yet!

Congratulations Ehophi! [/quote]


Even a DNA test would not help my child getting all the rights in my country, they require marriage, however you have until the offspring turns 18.

Marriage may not help there, however it remains a good idea.

I agree that hospitals and medical services are - in general - way, WAY better than they are back home (England, in my case). But some doctors can be a bit trigger-happy with tests and diagnostic abilities are sometimes poor (example - an ex-gf presenting with a high fever and no other symptoms was told she had a cold). “An ultrasound EVERY visit” is a case in point - unless there’s some reasonable suspicion that something is wrong, I’d say it’s better not to thoughtlessly blast a developing embryo with ultrasound at power levels similar to an ultrasonic cleaner. Treat the technology with a little respect, is all I’m saying.

Oh, and yeah, congratulations Ehophi … and Askr too :slight_smile:

Oh, thanks for the congratulations and all. Again, I’ll know more by Thursday.

I’ll give a few quick answers now, but will read the thread in more detail later.

We were already planning on that. If anything, this will put a tighter deadline on it.

No, but she is in her early thirties. I knew that 35 was the cautionary age for such things, but she’s pretty healthy (and young-looking, a plus) for her age.