When thinking about having an amniocentesis test you should know that the amniotic fluid is a kind of fluid surrounding the baby in the womb that contains fetal skin cells along with some other substances, such as ATF. These substances can offer a lot of information regarding the health of the baby.
What is amniocentesis testing?
Just as you may have thought this is a test done before birth during which there is a small amount of amniotic fluid collected from the amniotic sac and it is analyzed in laboratory setting.
The sample is collected with the help of a rather thin needle which is inserted into the uterus through the abdominal wall.
During the amniocentesis testing, the needle is injected while taking the ultrasound.
The doctors can perform different kinds of tests on the sample according to the genetic risks and according to the indication for the test.
Why is the test performed?
The main point of the amniocentesis test is to find possible birth defects like a chromosomal abnormality or Down syndrome. Since there are no risks for the mother or the baby, the test is usually offered to all women who present a high risk for genetic diseases.
The amniocentesis testing is offered to the women who have an abnormal ultrasound, have family history of birth defects, have a previous child with birth defects or are over 35 at the moment of childbirth. However, the test cannot detect all the genetic diseases.
Amniocentesis test is able to detect some of the conditions if the parents present a major risk, such as Down syndrome, cystic fibrosis, sickle cell disease, Tay-Sachs, muscular dystrophy and other kinds of diseases. The test can be used to recognize neural tube defects, like spina bifida too.
As it has been mentioned before, during the amniocentesis testing the ultrasound is also used, and so the doctors might recognize abnormalities that aren’t found by amniocentesis. Still there are some birth defects that cannot be recognized by either of the testing methods.
In case you must have or you choose to have amniocentesis test, you may want to find out the gender of the baby as well. Although this can be done using the ultrasound, the amniocentesis offers a lot more accurate result.
If there are chances that the mother will need an early delivery, the amniocentesis testing can be done during the third trimester as well to see whether the lungs of the baby are developed enough. There is also the possibility to see whether there is an infection in the amniotic fluid.
When is it performed?
In the majority of the cases, women have the amniocentesis test between weeks 15 and 18. Nonetheless there is no given time period when women should have it. As it has been mentioned before, it is also possible to perform the test later, according to the given situation.
The accuracy of the test
When it comes to amniocentesis testing the results are almost certain because the accuracy of the test is of 99.4%. It is possible for the test not to be successful because of technical problems, like the specialist not being able to collect enough amniotic fluid or not being able to grow the collected culture.
Are there any risks?
Just as in case of any other procedure, amniocentesis test also has its own risks. There is the chance that the test could cause a miscarriage, but the chance is less than 1%. The baby could also be injured and the mother could be affected by an infection. Preterm labor is another complication that needs to be taken into consideration.