Greater use of genetic amniocentesis in the Eastern Ontario region occurred once the results from the various national trials were published. Acceptance also paralleled an increase in the number of low parity older women having children and the centralisation and greater publicity given to our programme in the late 1970s. A centralised approach has had the positive effects of preventing unnecessary procedures, assuring appropriate patient counselling, follow up, and review, and of increasing obstetric and laboratory expertise. Advanced maternal age has been largely responsible for the increased demand for the service and accounted for an increasing proportion of tests performed, while the absolute number for several other diagnostic categories remained unchanged. We found no evidence that women with a history of previous miscarriage had a higher rate of pregnancy loss following the procedure, and comparison with a group of women who declined amniocentesis did not show that the test increased the risk of miscarriage.
Utilization of amniocentesis for prenatal diagnosis because of the indication of advanced maternal age (greater than or equal to 35 years at delivery) was examined in the population of B.C. over an 8-year period (1976-1983). As of 1983, approximately one out of three eligible women (greater than or equal to 35 years at delivery) is having the test. In the older group (greater than or equal to 38 years at delivery) approximately one out of two eligible women is having the test. The data do not indicate that the proportion of eligible women having amniocentesis has reached a plateau; utilization is continuing to increase. It appears that prenatal diagnosis is an ethically acceptable alternative for a large proportion of the population.