Prenatal Tests

During pregnancy, health of the baby is the main concern for the mom-to-be. Every would-be mom wants to make sure that everything is fine with the new life that is growing in her womb. The prenatal tests and scans help have to keep track of the well being of the growing baby as well as the mom. These tests have become a routine these days.

Most of us had a common concern about need for all these tests. Many a times we feel that the doctor might be overdoing with the tests. And those beliefs made us wary and even ignore the advice of the doctor. However changes have been observed in the belief of most women here in India about the need for these tests and most would-be-moms have been found to be proactively trying to know about the all the tests and then make an informed decision instead of outright rejection for any tests. The following information can be of help to all those looking to know more about the tests.

Why are Prenatal tests needed?

The first and foremost benefit of these tests is keeping track of the proper development of the baby which includes weight, height etc.; which is in interest of all the moms-to-be.

If the prenatal tests that are recommended is done on time then it helps detect any such health issues in the mother which could lead complications for the baby, if not treated on time. A very common example of this is Gestation Diabetes which needs to be treated on time.

If there are some risks with a particular pregnancy like hypertension, diabetes, age of the mom-to-be and any other health condition, these tests can help in assessing the effects of such conditions.

How are the tests done?

Most of the required Prenatal tests which are done initially are screening tests which helps determine if the baby is at risk for chromosomal disorder and these test involves ultrasound and blood tests which are non-invasive. Only if the screening tests give some high risk result, then the doctor recommends to go for diagnostic tests which are invasive. These diagnostic tests results are more accurate than the screening test and are mostly performed in cases of high risk.

What are the Routine Tests?

  1. First Trimester

    During the first prenatal visit thorough health check is done which starts with the entire medical history including any hereditary health conditions in the family. Physical checkup is done which includes weight, blood pressure and pap smear. Urine culture is done to check for infections. Blood test is done to check for Anemia and blood group (with Rh factor). Blood test is also performed to test for syphilis, Hepatitis B, and immunity to Rubella (German measles).

    A first trimester screening test is done between 11 and 14 weeks of pregnancy involves a blood test (AFP test)and nuchal translucency, which determines the risk of Down’s Syndrome and other chromosomal abnormality in the baby.

  2. Second Trimester

    You may have a couple of ultrasound during the second trimester to check for baby’s growth, physical abnormalities etc. depending on your case and your doctor.

    Quadruple screening is done between 15 and 18 weeks which involves blood test to check for chromosomal abnormalities and other birth defect.

    Screening for Gestational Diabetes is done between 26-28 weeks which involves a blood test for glucose level.

    Urine is tested at most prenatal visits to check for check for any urinary tract infection etc.

  3. Third Trimester

    Test to check for Group B streptoccous infection is done between 35 and 37 weeks. If there is an infection you will be given antibiotics at the time of labor and delivery.

    Blood test may be done to test for anemia. Regular urine test will be done to test for any urinary tract infection and preeclampsia.

    Ultrasound will be done as and when doctor thinks there is a need. For those who are at risk placenta pervia (low-lying placenta) ultrasound will be done to check the position of the placenta.

What are some of the Optional Tests?

  1. Chorionic Viillus Sampling (CVS)

    CVS is a diagnostic test which is done to find if baby has Down’s Syndrome or any other chromosomal abnormalities and other genetic disorders like cystic fibrosis, sickle cell disease, hemophilia, Tay-Sachs disease, and thalassemia.

    The test is done in 10 - 12 week. This is an invasive test and there is a risk of miscarriage associated with it. If you are at risk and want to opt for CVS you should get the first trimester screening done early so that if there is high risk you can get CVS done.

  2. Amniocentesis

    Amniocentesis is a diagnostic test which is done to test for Down’s syndrome, other chromosomal abnormalities and also genetic disorders. This test is performed between 15-22 weeks of pregnancy. Mostly doctor recommends this test to those who are found at high risk in the screening tests and those who are above 35 yrs of age.

    This is an invasive test in which a needle is inserted to draw the amniotic fluid from the womb and it has risk of miscarriage. In this test risk of miscarriage is less than that in CVS.

  3. Glucose Tolerance Test

    Glucose Tolerance test is done to check for Gestational Diabetes during the third trimester. This test is done only if the glucose level is found higher in the Glucose screening test done earlier in the second trimester.

  4. TORCH Test

    TORCH Panel of test is done when one develops some infection during pregnancy. This test is used to screen for antibodies to a panel of infectious diseases which includes toxoplasmosis, rubella, cytomegalovirus, syphilis and Herpes simplex Virus. These infections during pregnancy can be passed from mother to the fetus and can cause congenital defects in the baby, stunt the growth of the baby and can also cause miscarriage.

    These days TORCH test is not being use much as more sensitive tests are available to detect infections. Antibodies take time to develop and relying on that can delay the diagnosis.

Which of these Tests are Necessary?

Listen to your doctor. If you are not convinced then meet other doctors. But make decisions based on doctor's opinion. No two cases are same. Therefore the tests that are necessary for others may not be so for you. While tests which were optional for others may be required for you. Therefore discuss with doctors about your case, educate yourself about the test and then make a decision whether to go for the test or not.

What do I do if one of test results turn out negative?

If any of the test results shows any sign of abnormality, your doctor can help you understand the results and let you know the chances of having a child with birth defects. Also he will be able to discuss the options that you would have. Sometimes doctors do suggest going for counseling.


I am so glad that I was here

I am so glad that I was here because all their advices and tips are usually right and it is a very big help to a first timer pregnant mom to read more all of these. - Richard E. Dover