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Health Information For Parents
In amniocentesis, doctors take a sample of the amniotic fluid that surrounds a baby to check for signs of problems such as chromosomal disorders, genetic problems, and neural tube defects.
Examining a sample of the amniotic fluid lets doctors test things in the fluid, such as cells shed by the fetus that contain genetic information. Second-trimester amniocentesis is most often used to identify:
Doctors might use this test later in the pregnancy (in the third trimester) to check for infection and Rh incompatibility. This test can also reveal if a baby’s lungs are strong enough to allow the baby to breathe normally after birth. This can help doctors make decisions about inducing labor or trying to prevent labor, depending on the situation. For instance, if a mother’s water breaks early, the health care provider might try to delay delivering the baby to allow the lungs to mature.
Your health care provider may recommend this test if you:
Amniocentesis can be very accurate — close to 100% — but only some disorders can be detected. The rate of miscarriage with this test is between 1 in 300 and 1 in 500. It also carries a low risk of uterine infection, which can also cause miscarriage, leakage of amniotic fluid, and injury to the fetus.
Talk to your doctor to find out why this test is recommended for you, and to weigh the pros and cons of having it.
While watching with an ultrasound, the doctor inserts a needle through the abdominal wall into the uterus to remove some (about 1 ounce) of the amniotic fluid. Some women report cramping when the needle enters the uterus or pressure while the doctor takes the sample.
The doctor may check the fetus’ heartbeat after the procedure to make sure it’s normal. Most doctors recommend rest for several hours after the test.
The cells in the fluid sample are grown in a special culture and then analyzed (the specific tests done on the fluid depend on personal and family medical history).
Amniocentesis is usually done between 15 and 20 weeks, but can be done later in pregnancy if needed.
Timing varies depending on what is being tested for, but results usually are available within 1 to 2 weeks. Tests of lung maturity are often available within a few hours.
Find out what tests may be offered to you during the first trimester of pregnancy.
Find out what tests may be offered to you during weeks 13 through 26 of pregnancy.
Find out what tests may be offered to you during weeks 27 through 40 of pregnancy.
Every parent-to-be hopes for a healthy baby, but it can be hard not to worry. Find out what tests can keep you informed of your health â and your baby’s â throughout pregnancy.
Genetic counselors work with people who are either planning to have a baby or are pregnant to determine whether they carry the genes for certain inherited disorders. Find out more.
Glucose screenings check for gestational diabetes, a short-term form of diabetes that some women develop during pregnancy.
A prenatal ultrasound is a safe and painless test that shows a baby’s shape and position. It can be done in the first, second, or third trimester of pregnancy.
The sooner in pregnancy good careÂ begins, the better for theÂ health of both moms and their babies. Here’s what to expect.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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