Valuable information about fetal health can be obtained through amniotic fluid testing. An amniocentesis test is used to check for congenital disabilities or infection and help the doctor diagnose the fetus. An amniocentesis test looks at the amniotic fluid that surrounds the fetus.
What is an amniocentesis test?
The doctor removes a small amount of amniotic fluid from the uterus in an amniocentesis test. The amount of liquid removed is less than 30 grams. The fetus’s juice contains some embryonic cells and can diagnose genetic disorders.
This type of amniocentesis in the second trimester of pregnancy is usually done at 16 to 20 weeks. Also, a kind of amniocentesis performed late in pregnancy can determine if the fetus’s lungs can breathe outside the uterus.
The doctor inserts a long, narrow needle into the uterus and uses ultrasound to ensure the needle is inserted. Laboratory staff uses amniotic fluid to diagnose genetic disorders such as Down syndrome, spinal cord, and cystic fibrosis.
The result of this test helps the person to decide about their pregnancy. In the third trimester, an amniocentesis test determines fetal growth and maturity. This test is also used to diagnose the need for preterm delivery.
Who is recommended for an amniocentesis test?
One of the most common reasons for recommending amniocentesis is the abnormal results of the fetal screening. By performing this test, the doctor confirms or denies the existence of abnormalities identified in the screening test.
Suppose a person has ever given birth to a child with congenital disabilities or severe brain or spinal disorders. In that case, they can have an amniocentesis test to see if the fetus also has these disorders.
If the mother is over 35, the risk of chromosomal disorders such as Down syndrome increases. Amniocentesis can check for these disorders.
If the fetus’s father has a genetic disease such as cystic fibrosis, amniocentesis looks for the condition in the fetus.
Some pregnancy complications may require preterm delivery. Pre-pregnancy amniocentesis determines whether the fetus’s lungs have grown enough and the fetus can survive outside the uterus.
If your doctor thinks the fetus may have anemia or infection, or the mother may have a uterine infection, she may recommend an amniocentesis test.
If necessary, this test can reduce the amniotic fluid volume in the uterus.
The most accurate way to determine the sex of the fetus is to use amniotic fluid.
Amniocentesis can show some defects in the nervous system related to insufficient brain and spinal cord growth, such as spinal cord or encephalitis (a congenital disability of the scalp and missing part of the brain).
How is an amniocentesis test performed?
This test does not require hospitalization. The doctor first performs an ultrasound once to determine the exact position of the fetus in the uterus. Ultrasound is a safe way to see the fetus that uses high-frequency sound waves. The bladder should be complete for ultrasound, so you should drink plenty of water before the test.
The ultrasound result determines the safe location of the needle. After the ultrasound, the doctor anesthetizes part of the abdomen with anesthetics; then, the doctor inserts a small needle into the uterus to remove a small amount of amniotic fluid. This part of the test usually takes 2 minutes.
The result of amniotic fluid genetic testing is ready after two weeks. If the test is done to determine the growth of the fetal lung, the result will be prepared in a few hours.
Both are sampled if each has a separate amniotic sac in twin fetuses. Amniocentesis of twins is usually more complex than single ones, so it is best to see an experienced doctor.
Is it possible to resume normal activities after the test?
After the amniocentesis test, it is best to go home and rest for the rest of the day. After the test, the following is prohibited:
Lifting heavy objects;
After amniocentesis, you may experience mild pain similar to menstrual cramps that can last for several hours after the test. You can take two acetaminophen tablets every 4 hours in case of distress. The day after the test, you can continue your activities unless your doctor tells you to.
Possible risks of amniocentesis testing
This test is done in the second trimester of pregnancy, and although it can have side effects, it is scarce to have severe side effects. If the test is done between 16 and 20 weeks of pregnancy, there is a 0.3% risk of miscarriage. The trouble is somewhat higher if the test is done before the 15th week of pregnancy.
Common complications of an amniocentesis test include:
Partial bleeding from the vagina.
Side effects that people rarely experience:
Leakage of amniotic fluid from the body;
Amniocentesis can also transmit hepatitis C and AIDS infections to the fetus.
In rare cases, small amounts of fetal blood cells may enter the mother’s bloodstream. If the mother and fetus have a positive or negative blood type, the mother’s body may react to the fetus’s blood. In this case, your doctor will prescribe a rugae drug, which blocks the production of antibodies against fetal blood cells.
See a doctor right away if you notice any of the following symptoms:
Abnormal vaginal discharge;
Severe abdominal pain.
Interpretation of amniocentesis test results
This test is 99.4% accurate, and if the result is typical, it means that your child most likely has no genetic or chromosomal abnormalities. If the test is done to check the growth of the fetus, the natural result is that the baby is ready to be born and has a better chance of survival.
Abnormal test results show that the fetus may have a genetic or chromosomal abnormality. Of course, this is not certain and needs more testing. Be sure to consult your doctor if you have difficulty understanding the test result. Your doctor can also advise you on the next steps.
What happens after receiving an amniocentesis test result?
If a complication is seen in the test, you should discuss the options with your counselor. Doctors can treat congenital disabilities, such as the spinal cord, while the fetus is still in the womb.
Realizing the problems of the fetus, the mother will be more cared for and examined during pregnancy and will also help increase the doctor’s readiness.
Not all parents need to have an amniocentesis test, but knowing the benefits of this test can help you make informed decisions. An amniocentesis test will help ensure the health of your fetus and act promptly if there are any complications. We suggest that you explore the benefits and risks of this test for yourself and your child and make the right decision with this information.