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Imperfect Pregnancies

A History of Birth Defects and Prenatal Diagnosis

Ilana Löwy

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How has prenatal testing, once offered only for high-risk pregnancies, become standard medical care for pregnant women today?

In the 1960s, thanks to the development of prenatal diagnosis, medicine found a new object of study: the living fetus. At first, prenatal testing was proposed only to women at a high risk of giving birth to an impaired child. But in the following decades, such testing has become routine.

In Imperfect Pregnancies, Ilana Löwy argues that the generalization of prenatal diagnosis has radically changed the experience of pregnancy for tens of millions of women worldwide…

How has prenatal testing, once offered only for high-risk pregnancies, become standard medical care for pregnant women today?

In the 1960s, thanks to the development of prenatal diagnosis, medicine found a new object of study: the living fetus. At first, prenatal testing was proposed only to women at a high risk of giving birth to an impaired child. But in the following decades, such testing has become routine.

In Imperfect Pregnancies, Ilana Löwy argues that the generalization of prenatal diagnosis has radically changed the experience of pregnancy for tens of millions of women worldwide. Although most women are reassured that their future child is developing well, others face a stressful period of waiting for results, uncertain prognosis, and difficult decisions. Löwy follows the rise of biomedical technologies that made prenatal diagnosis possible and investigates the institutional, sociocultural, economic, legal, and political consequences of their widespread diffusion.

Because prenatal diagnosis is linked to the contentious issue of selective termination of pregnancy for a fetal anomaly, debates on this topic have largely centered on the rejection of human imperfection and the notion that we are now perched on a slippery slope that will lead to new eugenics. Imperfect Pregnancies tells a more complicated story, emphasizing that there is no single standardized way to scrutinize the fetus, but there are a great number of historically conditioned and situated approaches. This book will interest students, scholars, health professionals, administrators, and activists interested in issues surrounding new medical technologies, screening, risk management, pregnancy, disability, and the history and social politics of women’s bodies.

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Imperfect Pregnancies

Ilana Löwy

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Reviews

Reviews

If you are a supporter or a critic of prenatal testing, or, like many people, decidedly ambiguous, there is much that you will learn [from Imperfect Pregnancies] and much that will make you pause and re-examine your own views and knowledge base.

Above all, it is a rational, erudite, thoughtful – and thought-provoking – account of a major change in the experience of pregnancy which has come about largely unnoticed.

The author expertly navigates the reader through history and follows the rise of biomedical technologies that have made prenatal diagnosis possible... This book will benefit students, academics, health professionals and activists interested in issues surrounding new medical technologies, screening, risk management, pregnancy, disability, and the history and social politics of women's bodies.

Since its early stages, prenatal diagnosis has been balancing between the promises of safer pregnancies and healthier babies, and the dangers of its use for eugenic purposes. Ilana Löwy goes beyond this, and eloquently shows the limitations of such a dichotomised analysis... Löwy summons a wide range of disciplinary fields to solidly support this historical and comparative analysis of this field of research and medical practice, offering an unbiased yet critical approach.

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About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
296
ISBN
9781421423630
Table of Contents

Preface
Acknowledgments
Introduction
1. Born Imperfect
2. Karyotypes
3. Human Malformations
4. From Prenatal Diagnosis to Prenatal Screening
5. Sex Chromosome Aneuploidies
6. Prenatal Diagnosis and New

Preface
Acknowledgments
Introduction
1. Born Imperfect
2. Karyotypes
3. Human Malformations
4. From Prenatal Diagnosis to Prenatal Screening
5. Sex Chromosome Aneuploidies
6. Prenatal Diagnosis and New Genomic Approaches
Conclusion
Notes
Index

Author Bio
Featured Contributor

Ilana Löwy

Ilana Löwy is emerita senior research fellow at the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research. She is the author of Preventive Strikes: Women, Precancer, and Prophylactic Surgery and A Woman’s Disease: The History of Cervical Cancer.