Prenatal tests are extremely important in understanding the foetus condition. Here is a bird’s eye view of the common prenatal tests that a woman undergoes at different stages of pregnancy.
Human chorionic gonadotropin, generally termed as HCG, is the hormone the test of which in urine or blood confirms pregnancy. An extremely high amount of HCG is an early indicator of multiple foetuses. High levels of HCG in blood might also point to baby with Down syndrome. In order to get a more precise diagnosis, amniocentesis will have to be done. In normal cases, amniocentesis is done if the mother has crossed thirty five age mark. In such cases, there is an increased risk of delivering babies with genetic or chromosomal irregularities. This test is done by analysing the sample of amniotic fluid. Alphafetoprotein (AFP or triple) screening is a blood test that indicates an increased risk of foetal neural tube defects. Disorders such as spina bifida, anencephaly or even Down syndrome can be detected by this method. The quad screen is yet another test that a pregnant woman has to undergo. Through this test, AFP, HCG, estriol and inhibin are verified.
Ultrasound tests are done at least once in case of all pregnancies. Sound waves are effectively used to produce images of the unborn baby. Gestational diabetes is detected through glucose screening. High blood sugar during pregnancy is spotted in less than five per cent of pregnant women.
Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS) is a test that is done to detect birth defects in the baby. This test gives women an option to terminate the pregnancy at an earlier stage itself. Chorionic Villus Sampling is usually done when there is lack of enough amniotic fluid to collect as sample. Also referred to as foetal blood sampling or percutaneous umbilical cord sampling, Cordocentesis is done by collecting foetal blood from the umbilical cord directly. This test is done in order to get a precise picture of red blood cell count of foetus. It is also suggested by doctors as a means to measure maternal antibodies that might act unfavourably towards her baby.