Amniocentesis is one of the diagnostic methods performed during pregnancy.
It is also known as amniotic fluid test (AFT). It is used to determine the development of the baby in the uterus.
Amniocentesis is also used to find out any possible genetic and chromosomal abnormalities in the baby during pregnancy, as these abnormalities may result in Down syndrome, Edwards syndrome, and musculoskeletal disorders (cystic fibrosis, and spina bifida).
Amniocentesis is normally recommended by health care professional during 16-20 weeks of pregnancy and when there is increased risk of developing genetic abnormalities in the baby.
The factors that contribute to increased risk of developing genetic abnormalities in the baby includes:
Age is a major factor that increases the possibility of developing chromosomal abnormality in the baby during pregnancy. The risk increases as you age.
It is found that the chances of developing Down syndrome in the baby is 1 out of every 1295 during the age twenty and it is 1 out of every 82 at age forty.
Family history is another factor for increased risk. Having genetic or chromosomal abnormality in any of the family member also increases the chances of developing genetic problems in your child.
Your medical history such as carrying a pregnancy (previously) with a genetic abnormality baby also increases the chances of giving birth to abnormal baby again.
Test results of Down syndrome screening test, ultrasound test, and carrier-screening test are also the factors that contribute to increased risk of developing genetic abnormalities in the baby.
In amniocentesis procedure, a fine hollow needle is inserted into the uterus through your abdomen in order to remove a sample (small amount) of amniotic fluid (the fluid that surrounds and protects the fetus in the womb) for detecting the genetic or chromosomal abnormalities.
It is generally done when the uterus contains enough amniotic fluid for removing a sample for diagnosis. During this test, a local anesthesia may be given into your skin to numb the abdomen.
For this test, an ultrasound is used to identify the safe place to insert the needle into the amniotic sac in order to remove the fluid safely without any damages. The collected amniotic fluid is then sent to the laboratory for analysis.
The amniocentesis procedure usually takes about 45 minutes, while the collection of fluid takes a minimum of five minutes.
It takes a minimum of two weeks for the complete test results to obtain. However, a preliminary result can obtain within two days evaluating the alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) in the fluid, which helps identify the risk.
Amniocentesis is a very reliable with 99.9 percent accurate results in detecting chromosome abnormalities.
Amniocentesis is measured to be a safe procedure. However, it provides certain risks and side effects. Miscarriage is the major risk associated with amniocentesis procedure.
You may feel slight irritation and cramping after the procedure. However, consult your doctor right away when vaginal bleeding (Vaginal Bleeding during Pregnancy) or leaking of fluid follows the procedure.
Remember that it is very important to understand the risks and benefits of amniocentesis before you undergo it.