To keep a check on your baby’s health and developmental progress, various screenings and tests are done during those 9 months. Screening tests are specifically targeted to rule out any possibility of an abnormality or disorder.
Here are 5 most common tests specifically for determining any health risks to your baby before they are born.
Mothers are familiar with ultrasound—an ultrasound can help determine the month of your pregnancy, or the size and position of your baby. To rule out any abnormalities in your baby’s organs and structure, ultrasounds play a key role and are done from time to time.
Nuchal Translucency Ultrasound
The Nuchal Translucency (NT) ultrasound is performed to measure the amount of translucent fluid at the back of the baby’s neck. Higher than normal levels of translucent fluid is a sign of chromosomal abnormalities like Down syndrome or heart defects. The ultrasound is done between the 11th and 14th weeks of gestation.
The ultrasound indicates the possibility of having a disorder, albeit many infants with thicker NT and don’t have any disorders. To further confirm the issue, tests like chorionic villus sampling (CVS) test or cell-free fetal DNA testing is done.
Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS) Test
CVS is an invasive test used to determine genetic disorders or abnormalities while the baby is still in the womb. It is rather an invasive screening test where a tissue is scraped from the placenta from the area where it attaches to the uterine wall. It is done between 10th to 13th week of pregnancy and has an accuracy rate of 98-99%.
CVS is considered a safe process, yet, 1 in every 100 procedures are the risk of causing a miscarriage. There are two ways to perform the screening—one method is done through the belly and is called a transabdominal test, the other is done through the cervix, which is called transcervical test.
The technique isn’t useful in detecting neural tube defects. However, since it is performed early, the parents get time to prepare themselves if the fetus has a disorder or choose to end the pregnancy before it becomes traumatic.
Also called amniotic fluid test (AFT), it is used to diagnose abnormalities in chromosomes and fetal infections. The test is also used for sex-determination. The procedure involves removing a small amount of amniotic fluid from the uterus—the fluid contains fetal cells which are then studies to find out the chemicals released by baby’s body.
Genetic amniocentesis is done after the 15th week under following conditions—materanl age is 35 or above, family history if genetic disorder, a chromosomal abnormality in the previous pregnancy and abnormal results in prenatal screening.
Maturity amniocentesis is done in the third trimester between 32 to 39 weeks of pregnancy. It is carried out in case of an early delivery to make sure your baby’s lungs are ready to work after birth.
4. Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing (NIPT)
Also known as cell-free DNA screening, this test is comparatively safer as no invasive method are adopted during screening. The mother’s blood sample, which contains the fetal DNA is taken for tests.
The test is not recommended for everyone but women having an X-linked recessive disorder, Rh-negative blood type, or higher risks of chromosomal abnormalities.
5. Non-Stress Test
The non-stress test as the name suggests determines the fetal stress levels by monitoring their heart rate, activity, and movement. The test involves attaching a belt to the mother’s abdomen for about 20-30 minutes. The non-stress test helps the doctor in finding out whether the baby is receiving enough oxygen.
Screenings tests done during pregnancy provides information about your baby’s well-being. If tests concerns you talk to your doctor or healthcare team about it if it requires you to take a personal decision.