The fetus is surrounded by amniotic fluid during pregnancy, which is a substance much like water. Amniotic fluid is known to carry live fetal cells among other substances present, such as alpha-fetoprotein (AFP). These substances provide significant information about the health of your baby before birth. Amniocentesis can be defines as a prenatal test associated with the removal of a small amount of amniotic fluid from the sac which surrounds the fetus for the purpose of testing.
You might need amniocentesis for the main and most common reason of abnormal prenatal screening. This test helps your doctor in confirming or denying any kind of abnormalities which may have been found during the test. In case you already have had a child with a serious abnormality of the spinal cord (neural tube defect) or brain, or birth defect, this procedure helps by checking and making sure whether your child has the previous mentioned condition. In case you are older than 35 years, your baby is possibly at a higher risk for a chromosomal abnormality called Down syndrome. Amniocentesis diagnoses these abnormalities. In case you or your sexual partner is a carrier of a genetic disorder, like cystic fibrosis, amniocentesis will detect beforehand whether your unborn child suffers with this disorder or not.
A sample of the fluid (less than an ounce) is removed by inserting a fine, long and thin needle into the uterus through the stomach. While the baby is in the womb, this fluid surrounds and protects it. This process takes place under the guidance of an ultrasound in order to find out the exact location of the baby in the uterus. An ultrasound is characterized as a non invasive procedure associated with the usage of high frequency sound waves which creates an image of your unborn baby. The amniotic fluid is sent to the laboratory for further analysis by a laboratory technician thereafter. There are a number of different tests which can be performed on the sample of amniotic fluid. These tests include genetic disorders such as cystic fibrosis, spina bifida, and Down syndrome. This factor depends on the indications and the genetic risk for the test. You won’t be requiring a stay in the hospital as this test is an outpatient procedure.
The test result will help confirm whether to continue with the pregnancy or not. The test result will also let you know whether or not the baby is matured enough to be born. This test is also helpful in determining whether or not you need to deliver early in order to negate any kind of complications.
Women who are 18 to 20 weeks pregnant are eligible for the test.
Women before 20th week of pregnancy are not eligible for the procedure as it may harm the unborn baby, drain the amniotic fluid from the body and increase the chances of miscarriage.
The side effects associated with amniocentesis test are a 0.6% of miscarriage rate if done during the second trimester of pregnancy, cramps, vaginal bleeding, leakage of amniotic fluid out of the body, uterine infection, and the transfer of infection to your unborn baby.
After the procedure of amniocentesis is over, it is best for you to go home and relax for the remaining day. Your doctor will strictly advise you to not exercise, lift anything over 20 pounds (children are included), avoid sexual relations and avoid performing any strenuous activity. You may have to take two acetaminophen (Tylenon) every 4 hours in order to relieve discomfort. After the procedure is complete, you can continue all normal activities a day after, unless directed by your doctor otherwise. Do not rush to your workplace or anywhere else which puts physical strain on you as this might harm the baby after the procedure.
It just takes a day to return back to normal activities after the procedure of amniocentesis is complete as it is just a test and not a treatment.
The cost of amniocentesis ranges between Rs. 8,000 to Rs. 12,000.
The results of the test are permanent. In case the results of the test are normal, your baby doesn’t have a genetic or chromosomal abnormality. Normal results of amniocentesis demonstrate that your baby is likely to be born with a high rate of survival and health. If the result is negative, then it is a matter of risk for you to continue with the pregnancy as your baby may be born abnormal or with a disorder.
There are various alternatives to amniocenteses. These involve noninvasive prenatal test, integrated screening, first trimester combined screening, and second trimester quad screen.