How Can Amniocentesis Help You And Your Fetus?

March 10, 2009 by  
Filed under Pregnancy

In the uterus, within the amniotic sac, your child is growing surrounded by a fluid which protects it from the mother’s movements. This liquid is known as amniotic fluid, and testing it can tell you whether something is wrong with your baby. Doctors insert a long needle through the abdomen to draw out some of this fluid, which they test to gain information on the fetus.

This test is known as the Amniotic Fluid Test (AFT), and takes about two weeks to give proper results. Also known as ‘amnio’, this test is undertaken at 4 to 5 months. It involves examination of the amniotic fluid for any genetic abnormalities, uterine infections, Rh (rhesus) sensitization and other complications which the baby may have. The AFT is also used to check the health of the baby.

The amniotic fluid normally contains cells and skin which has peeled off from the gestating fetus, which form the essence of the test. Usually, a very small amount of this fluid is taken, since the fetus requires it for protection.

Amniotic fluid contains markers that when tested, can determine if the fetus has Down syndrome. Down syndrome is a very rare genetic disorder, and the AFT combined with an ultrasound, is usually up to ninety nine percent precise in diagnosing it.

Sickle cell anemia, Tay-Sachs, cystic fibrosis and Huntington’s disease are examples of other genetic discrepancies that can be detected in the developing fetus through the AFT. Most expectant mothers will prefer to do this check to determine whether the baby they are carrying has any of these conditions, even though only a very small percentage actually do.

Amniocentesis is also used to perform checks on the fetus for Spina bifina, which is a neural disorder that can cause crippling later in life. Of all the women who choose to undertake amniocentesis, less that five percent discover a problem with the fetus. Amniocentesis offers the expectant mother a chance to remove the fetus if any genetic condition is found. AFT also enables the parent to discover the sex of the child, although an easier and more convenient method of doing this is via an ultrasound.

Older women who have chosen to get pregnant will find their fetuses more susceptible to the conditions above. Of course, no single test can prove any of these conditions definitively, so it is always better to use the AFT along with ultrasounds and other diagnostic measures to determine conclusively.

Women achieve some sort of peace after assuring themselves that their baby has no genetic conditions. Apart from this, amniocentesis is also helpful in that many in-utero deficiencies can be resolved before they become bigger concerns.

There are no invasive tests that are zero risk, and Amniotic Fluid Tests are no exception. In rare cases, AFTs can cause miscarriages, especially if the needle used to extract the fluid pierces the fetus. Also, this test has a one in thousand chance of creating some sort of uterine infection.

Some women may also have some pain after the AFT process, with at least one percent getting a mild form of spotting and leakage of fluids. Steer clear of any sort of strain on the body after this procedure to minimize the likelihood of any harm to the health of the baby.