Amniocentesis is a diagnostic procedure requiring the removal of a bit of amniotic fluid from the womb for testing. The amniotic fluid contains cells from the baby and is tested if there are concerns or confirmations to be made about the pregnancy.

The result of the test can help determine treatment, reassure or prepare the parents for the worse before the baby is born. Often times, parents of babies with a genetic history tend to opt for amniocentesis in order to check if whatever prevalent genetic disorder they have, is in their child.

An amniocentesis can be done from the 11th week in early cases but ideally, it is done between the 15th to the 20th week, or much later in the pregnancy, should complications arise. There may be an increased risk of complication if amniocentesis is done before week the 15th week of pregnancy. Before undertaking the procedure, an ultrasound is firstly done in order to ascertain the right location from which to safely remove the fluid from. Using a needle, the fluid is collected and taken for a laboratory analysis. It’s important to wield the needle carefully so that it does not touch the baby. A sonogram ensures this.

Reasons for Amniocentesis?

It is used for genetic testing. Genetic amniocentesis provides information on the child’s system and formation and any such genetic disorders such as cystic fibrosis. A Genetic amniocentesis can be done from the 15th week of pregnancy and the result can provide the woman with information on how to manage or what to expect from the pregnancy.

If there is a premature rupture of the membrane, amniocentesis can be used to check for uterine infections.

To determine the severity of fetal anemia and perform a blood transfusion where necessary. This is especially for babies with the Rh disease, a condition that causes the woman’s immune system to produce antibodies that fight protein on the baby’s blood cell surface.

To check for the presence of chromosomal abnormalities such as Down syndrome or neural tube defects such as spina bifida.  The test may sometimes be unable to confirm the severity of defects.

It is used in late pregnancy to determine the capability of the baby’s lungs,to function on its own at birth or otherwise.

It helps for a 99% accuracy of DNA testing before the baby is delivered.

It is used for the diagnosis of fetal infection or other illnesses.

Amniocentesis is used for the treatment of polyhydramnios. This involves the drainage of excessive amniotic fluid accumulated in pregnancy.

It may be recommended, in order to eliminate the fear of complications or defects from a prior abnormal ultrasound result.

Regardless of the above named reasons, an amniocentesis is only done, if the woman gives her consent. Most women tend to opt out due to the fear of certain risks involved. The doctor may only offer guidance or direction, having weighed many significant impacts and concerns of the pregnancy.   


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