Pregnancy guide > Your baby in pregnancy > Pregnancy health > Antenatal care > Choices you have if foetal abnormalities are found

Choices you have if foetal abnormalities are found

Useful information on the choices you have if a foetal abnormality is found in your baby, with information on chromosome abnormality testing during pregnancy.
You may have some initial results from any tests you may have had after a few days, but the full report may take 18 days to be completed.

If your test results confirm an abnormality the findings will be explained to you. If the abnormality is a condition like Down's Syndrome you may wish to contact some support organisations to find out more before deciding what to do.

Some foetal abnormalities can lead to miscarriage or pre-term labour. Others are incompatible with life. If your baby has a condition which would allow it to survive you will be faced with three choices:
  • Continuing the pregnancy and adjusting to the prospect of looking after a handicapped child.
  • Continuing the pregnancy and arranging for your baby to be adopted soon after birth.
  • Terminating the pregnancy.
Terminating a pregnancy in the only weeks is generally a fairly simple surgical procedure. Once the foetus has grown to a certain size this technique is not possible. Drugs are then given to induce the termination which can take some time. The process usually involves some pain although there are plenty of options for pain relief.

If you have reached a stage in your pregnancy where you are aware of distinct foetal movements you may be offered feticide. This is a procedure similar to amniocentesis which affects the heart and stops it beating so that you do not have to deliver a live baby. Depending on your views this might make the delivery less traumatic.

None of the choices are easy. Health care professionals, your partner, family and friends will help you through. There are also ongoing services and support groups which can offer both information and practical help. Do not feel that you have to go through this alone.

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