Types of Prenatal Testing
- Hepatitis B
- Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
- Birth defect history
- History of illicit drug or harmful substance use
- Viral infection
- Radiation exposure
- Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP)—protein normally produced by the fetus
- Estriol—estrogen produced by both the fetus and placenta
- Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG)—hormone produced within the placenta
- Glucose—The presence of sugar in your urine indicates gestational diabetes, a type of diabetes that occurs only in pregnancy. If sugar is present in your urine, additional tests will be ordered to confirm the diagnosis.
- Protein—The presence of protein in your urine could be a sign of a urinary tract infection. Later in pregnancy, protein in the urine can signal pre-eclampsia. This condition causes a sudden rise in blood pressure and may cause excessive weight gain.
- Ketones—The presence of ketones in your urine is a sign that your body is breaking down fats instead of carbohydrates for energy. This can mean that you are not getting enough to eat or you are dehydrated. This may be present in diabetes.
- Bacteria—The presence of significant numbers of bacteria in your urine is a sign of potential urinary tract infection. You may be prescribed antibiotics to treat the infection. Group B streptococcal infection can also be identified in a urine test.
- Cervical dysplasia or other conditions—A cervical or Pap smear is often done at the beginning of pregnancy to check for abnormalities in cells or other conditions, such as cancer.
- Group B streptococcal infection
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- Confirm a pregnancy
- Estimate the gestational age
- Identify location of pregnancy—in uterus or in fallopian tubes
- Check for a neural tube defect
- Check for multiple gestations
- Check for extra fluid in the back of the neck
- Week 11-14: characteristics of potential Down syndrome
- Week 18-20: possible congenital malformations
- Check for multiple pregnancies
- Confirm gestation age and fetal growth
- Check level of amniotic fluid
- Determine the baby’s sex
- Determine the location and development of the placenta
- Check fetal well being and movement
- Identify any uterine or pelvic abnormalities of the mother
- Check the adequacy of the amount of amniotic fluid
Additional Prenatal Testing for Genetic Disorders
- Transcervical (TC) CVS—A a thin catheter is guided through the vagina and cervix and into the placenta where a small amount of tissue is obtained. Ultrasound is used to help guide the doctor and decrease risk to the fetus.
- Transabdominal (TA) CVS—Similar to amniocentesis, a needle is guided from the abdomen and into the placenta where a small amount of tissue is obtained. A local anesthetic may be used. Just as with TC CVS, ultrasound is used to help guide the doctor and decrease risk to the fetus.
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- Down syndrome
- Other chromosomal abnormalities
- Neural tube defects, such as spina bifida and anencephaly
- Inherited metabolic disorders
- Chromosomal abnormalities, such as Down syndrome
- Blood disorders, such as fetal hemolytic disease
- Malformations of the fetus
- Fetal infection
- Fetal anemia
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. ACOG Practice bulletin No. 27. Prenatal diagnosis of fetal chromosome abnormalities. Obstet Gynecol. 2001 May;97(5 Pt 1): suppl 1-12.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. ACOG Practice bulletin No. 56. Multiple gestation: complicated twin, triplet, and high-order multiple pregnancies. Obstet Gynecol. 2004 Oct;104(4):869-883.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. ACOG Practice bulletin No. 77. Screening for fetal chromosomal abnormalities. Obstet Gynecol. 2007 Jan;109(1):217-227.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. ACOG Practice bulletin No. 88. Invasive prenatal testing for aneuploidy. Obstet Gynecol. 2007 Dec;110(6):1459-1467.
Cordocentesis: Percutaneous umbilical blood sampling. American Pregnancy Association website. Available at: http://www.americanpregnancy.org/prenataltesting/cordocentesis.html. Updated February 2006. Accessed March 18, 2014.
Genetic disorders. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Available at: http://www.acog.org/~/media/For%20Patients/faq094.ashx. Updated August 2011. Accessed March 18, 2014.
Graves JC, Miller KE, et al. Maternal serum triple analyte screening in pregnancy. American Family Doctor. 2002;65:915-920.
Pregnancy. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated February 19, 2014. Accessed March 18, 2014.
Prenatal ultrasound screening. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated January 14, 2014. Accessed March 18, 2014.
Rh factor. American Pregnancy Association website. Available at: http://www.americanpregnancy.org/prenataltesting/rhfactor.html. Updated April 2006. Accessed March 18, 2014.
Screening and monitoring during pregnancy. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated March 3, 2014. Accessed March 18, 2014.
Standards of medical care in diabetes. III. Detection and diagnosis of gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM). Diabetes Care. 2012 Jan;35(Suppl 1):S15-16.
Urine test: urinalysis. American Pregnancy Association website. Available at: http://www.americanpregnancy.org/prenataltesting/urinetest.html. Updated April 2006. Accessed March 18, 2014.
- Reviewer: Andrea Chisholm, MD
- Review Date: 03/2014 -
- Update Date: 04/30/2014 -
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
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