The early weeks of pregnancy are fragile—and confusing. Here, the answers to your questions.
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A healthy baby is every expectant mom’s No. 1 priority. The good news? Most babies are born healthy. But a small amount (about 2 percent to 4 percent) are affected by some kind of a serious birth defect. There are a number of tests that can check on your baby’s health when you’re pregnant: Screening tests give parents-to-be an idea of the likelihood that their baby has certain kinds of problems, but they can’t tell for sure.
If a screening test shows an increased risk, your provider will suggest diagnostic testing to learn more. Diagnostic tests are performed on genetic material from the baby to determine whether he or she has a birth defect.
Being informed about what prenatal tests look for, how they are conducted and what their results may mean can help you make decisions that are best for you and your baby.
What does it test for? Chromosomal abnormalities, such as trisomy 21, trisomy 18, trisomy 13, and single gene disorders, such as cystic fibrosis.
How is it given? A provider takes a small sample of cells from the placenta, which has the same genetic material as the baby, in one of two ways: During a trans-abdominal CVS, a provider inserts a thin needle through the mother’s belly and into the uterus to take a small sample of placental tissue; or, with a transcervical CVS, a provider inserts a thin tube through the mother’s vagina and cervix to take a tiny sample of placental tissue. The sample is sent to a laboratory, where the chromosomes in the cells are checked to see if they are missing or damaged. CVS results come back in about one or two weeks. After the test, women may experience cramping and they may have some spotting. (Women who have this test should call their provider if they have heavy bleeding or a fever, or if they start to feel contractions.)
Is there a risk? Yes, but it’s low: CVS carries a less than 1 in 300 to 500 risk of miscarriage.