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Putting It All Together: Amniocentesis

Friday, March 16, 2012 - 14:03

Contributing Author: Guy Slowik FRCS

Here is a summary of the important facts and information related to amniocentesis:

  • Amniocentesis is a relatively painless procedure that is performed in a doctor's office or hospital.
  • A small amount of the amniotic fluid bathing a fetus is removed during amniocentesis to identify potential birth defects and many other problems.
  • The procedure involves inserting a needle through the abdomen skin into the uterus to remove a sample of amniotic fluid. Ultrasound is used to determine the position of the fetus so that the needle can avoid the placenta and fetus.
  • Amniocentesis is used to diagnose chromosome abnormalities, neural tube defects such as spina bifida, and many specific genetic and other abnormalities that may concern a family, usually because of a family history.
  • Amniocentesis will diagnose the sex of the baby.
  • Genetic amniocentesis increases the risk of miscarriage by less than 1% over the baseline risk for miscarriage.
  • Doctors and genetic counselors typically recommend genetic amniocentesis when the statistical risk of an abnormal pregnancy exceeds the risk of miscarriage from the procedure.
  • Many other studies of the fetus can be done with amniotic fluid obtained by amniocentesis in the second half of pregnancy. These include fetal infection, fetal lung maturity, and fetal anemia.

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