Amniocentesis

Our OB-GYN doctors and nurses offer prenatal testing that includes amniocentesis. The test looks at the amniotic fluid that surrounds the fetus. It gives information on the health of the unborn baby.

What is amniocentesis?

Amniocentesis is a prenatal test that takes a sample of the fluid surrounding the fetus. A thin needle is guided by ultrasound and inserted through the abdomen to remove a small amount of amniotic fluid for testing. The fluid is sent to a lab for tests, which can show if a baby is likely to have birth defects.

Testing for genetic diseases

Amniocentesis is usually done for women whose babies have a risk of certain genetic diseases. Women who have an amniocentesis may have:

  • An inherited risk or family history of certain birth defects;

  • Have a child already with birth defects;

  • Have had past problems in pregnancy;

  • Have an abnormal ultrasound and need further testing.

Amniocentesis can be used to detect the following conditions, if the parents have a genetic risk:

  • Down syndrome

  • Sickle cell disease

  • Cystic fibrosis

  • Muscular dystrophy

  • Tay-Sachs disease

Amniocentesis also is done to tell if the baby’s lungs are mature enough for birth. It also may be done to diagnose a fetal infection.

Should I have amniocentesis?

Amniocentesis is not for everyone. Talk with your healthcare provider about it. Amniocentesis carries some risks that include:

  • Leaking amniotic fluid;

  • Miscarriage;

  • Needle injury to the fetus;

  • Infection;

  • RH sensitivity, leading to damage to the baby’s red blood cells.

The decision to have amniocentesis is up to the patient. Your doctor and a genetic counselor can provide guidance and helpful information.

Visit Family Birth Center

Your health and the health of your baby matter most. At MaineHealth, we create a nurturing family-centered environment that is safe and supportive for labor, delivery and post-birth care. Our medical teams bring experience, skill and compassionate care.
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