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The A,B,Cs of Amniocentesis

During pregnancy, the embryo is surrounded by amniotic fluid. Early in fetal development, amniotic fluid is mainly water with electrolytes, but as the pregnancy develops, the liquid contains proteins, carbohydrates and other elements that are critical to the development of the fetus

The A,B,Cs of Amniocentesis

Amniocentesis is a prenatal test where a small amount of amniotic fluid is extracted and tested for chromosomal abnormalities, such as Down syndrome, cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy, Tay-Sachs, and sickle cell disease. Amniocentesis can also detect diseases that affect the development of the brain and spinal column, such as anencephaly and spina bifida.

Generally if you are going to have an amniocentesis, your AOA physician will schedule the procedure between the 15th and 18th week of your pregnancy. The doctor will use ultrasound to find the right spot to remove the fluid using a needle that is inserted into the uterus through the abdomen.

Because there is a small risk for both the mother and her baby, amniocentesis is most often recommended when a woman is at higher risk of genetic diseases. This may include women who have had an abnormal ultrasound; have a family history of certain birth defects; have previously had a child or pregnancy with a birth defect; or are 35 or older.

In addition to learning about any potential genetic problems that might be present, an amniocentesis is the most accurate way to learn the baby’s gender before birth.

Amniocentesis is highly accurate at about 99.4%, and while there is a slight risk for the developing fetus and the mother, it is very rare.

Talk with your AOA doctor about the risks and benefits of amniocentesis for you and your child.

Learn more about amniocentesis: