Prenatal screening and diagnosis

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In the twentieth century, technological capacities to surveil and monitor pregnancies have expanded dramatically. Prenatal screening refers to systematic, population-wide efforts to identify health problems during the development of a fetus, while prenatal diagnosis refers to the biomedical conclusions made regarding the nature of such problems. Technologies for prenatal screening and testing were increasingly incorporated in routine pregnancy care in affluent parts of the world during the 1980s and 1990s and are currently routinizing across the globe.

This article highlights key themes in anthropological studies of prenatal screening and diagnosis, dividing the literature into three main themes: Pregnancy experiences; pregnancy decision-making; and pregnancy governance. Anthropologists have, firstly, produced detailed accounts of the ways in which prenatal diagnosis changes pregnancy experiences, deepening the uncertainties that surround childbearing. Secondly, anthropological research has documented the—sometimes excruciating—decision-making processes that prenatal screening and diagnosis may entail. Finally, anthropologists have produced critical analyses of the political and economic forces that drive the introduction and uptake of new technologies for selective reproduction. We conclude by summarizing the contributions made by research in this field to the anthropology of reproduction.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Handbook of Anthropology and Reproduction
EditorsSallie Han, Cecília Tomori
Place of PublicationLondon
Publication date2021
ISBN (Electronic)9781003216452
Publication statusPublished - 2021

ID: 346788726