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Prenatal tests

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Your doctor will advise prenatal tests for your wellbeing as well as your baby’s. Throughout your pregnancy, you need to undergo some diagnostic as well as screening tests to ensure that everything is perfectly fine.

Before moving on to explaining the types of prenatal tests, we shall explain you how to do these tests benefit you.


Why are prenatal tests recommended?

The tests can detect an underlying health problem in the baby or the mother that could be threatening for both.

For the expecting mother- These tests can figure out your blood type and find out the probability of gestational diabetes, anaemia, STDS, cervical cancer or any other complication.

For the developing baby- It can predict the growth of your baby, it position, size and other attributes. The tests are also performed to detect health problems like heart abnormalities, malfunctioning of brain, deformities or any types of congenital diseases like Down’s syndrome.


Different types of prenatal tests


This is the most common prenatal test that will be scheduled by your doctor depending on the need. Done mostly to observe the development of the baby, ultrasound is exciting for expecting mothers

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Routine blood tests

Blood tests are mandatory. Your doctor will determine the Rh factor and your blood type and make sure that it’s compatible with the baby. Blood tests would also be conducted to screen your for syphilis, HIV, hepatitis B and Group B strep. The level of immunity to measles and chicken pox will also be determined.  

Furthermore, blood test is also conducted to determine levels of HCG hormone. Abnormally high amount of HCG can indicate twins, triplets or even probability of Down syndrome.


Urine test

Urinalysis is done to check for urinary tract infection which is quite common in pregnancy.


Pap smear test

This is a screening test for cervical cancer. A speculum would be inserted in your vagina and your cervix will be clearly viewed. Sample of cells will be collected which will be examined under a microscope.


Alphafetoprotein (AFP) screening

This test can find out spina bifida i.e. growth of defective neural tube and anencephaly, i.e. absence of whole part of the brain.

Quad marker test is advised to screen four fetal proteins while sequential integrated screen and serum integrated screen test for all six fetal proteins present in the mother’s blood. These tests can indicate Down syndrome and chromosomal defects in unborn babies.


Glucose screening

The test is usually conducted in the second trimester for checking gestational diabetes, which is moderately common among pregnant women.



A very specialized prenatal test performed to diagnose fetal anaemia and fetal blood infection. In this case, the fetal blood is collected from the umbilical cord for sampling.



The amniotic fluid is extracted from the uterus and is analysed for birth defects, chromosomal disorders and maturity of the baby. Genetic amniocentesis is conducted in women over 35 years while maturity amniocentesis is performed to check if the baby’s lungs have developed properly in case of premature delivery.


Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS)

The amniotic fluid is collected to confirm presence of genetic disorders and chromosomal problems. It is performed in women > 35 years of age and during 10-12 weeks of pregnancy. CVS test can detect cystic fibrosis, Tay-Sachs disease, and sickle cell anaemia.

Note: Not every woman undergoes all the aforementioned diagnostic tests. It depends on your health and the necessity is determined by your doctor.

Written by: healthplus24.com team
Date last updated: April 13, 2014

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