During your pregnancy, doctors perform numerous prenatal tests and scans to ensure that the baby is developing well. Amniocentesis is one such test done for prenatal diagnosis of chromosomal abnormalities and fetal infections.
Why is Amniocentesis advised?
This is not a regular prenatal test which all pregnant ladies have to go through. Doctors advise this specialized test to women who have significant risk for genetic diseases. This decision may be advised:
- If you are above 35 years of age.
- If the results of screening tests are positive or worrisome.
- If you had a chromosomal condition or a neural tube defect during previous pregnancy.
- If you have a family history of specific genetic condition or your partner is a known carrier of a genetic disorder.
- Your Ultrasound shows abnormal results.
This test doesn’t detect all the birth defects but can detect the following chromosomal abnormalities:
- Down syndrome
- Sickle cell disease
- Cystic fibrosis
- Muscular dystrophy
- Neural tube defects where the brain and spinal column don’t develop properly.
- Prediction of baby’s lungs maturity.
When is it performed?
Amniocentesis is performed between the 15th and 18th week of pregnancy.
What happens during Amniocentesis?
The doctor first locates the location of the baby and placenta with ultrasound. With the guidance of ultrasound, a thin hollow needle is inserted in your abdomen and uterus and then in amniotic sac away from your baby. A small amount of amniotic fluid is removed from sac and sent for laboratory analysis. You may feel cramping or discomfort during and for few hours after this test. You may go back home the same day and take rest for few days.
Does Amniocentesis have risks?
This test carries small risk (less than 1%) of miscarriage, injury to mother and baby, infection or preterm labour but these are extremely rare. It’s best to get this test done from experts.
How accurate is this test?
The results of amniocentesis are about 99.4% accurate.
When are the results of Amniocentesis available?
The results of this test take about 2-3 weeks. The baby’s living cells from the fluid are allowed to multiply and then checked for genetic abnormality.
What if the results show any abnormality?
You will be offered counseling so that you can discuss your options. Some parents decide to terminate the pregnancy while others wish to carry on with faith and keep the baby. Whatever option you decide to take, you should do so after enough deliberation and counseling.
Pregnancy is an emotional experience where you want to ensure that the baby you want to bring in this word is free of any abnormalities. Despite being painful, these tests give you an option of making an informed choice so that you are well prepared for the outcome.