Often referred to as an “amnio”, a genetic amniocentesis is a prenatal test that helps you and your doctor learn about your baby’s genetics. It is often done to test for certain genetic abnormalities, such as Down’s syndrome and spina bifida.
Why would I want an amniocentesis?
This procedure is recommended for women with certain risk factors during their pregnancy. You may consider an amniocentesis if:
- You’ve had positive results from a prior screening test and need to test further
- You’ve had birth defects in previous pregnancies that need to be checked for now
- You’re 35 or older
- You or your partner or either of your families are known to be carriers for certain genetic conditions.
What does an amniocentesis screen for?
A genetic amniocentesis can screen for genetic abnormalities. While it does not screen for all possible birth defects, it can screen for genetic conditions such as Down’s syndrome, spina bifida, cystic fibrosis, sickle-cell disease, Tay-Sach’s disease, muscular dystrophy, and more. It is also the most accurate way to determine the sex of your baby before birth. This test is 99.4% accurate in predicting genetic traits of your baby.
How is an amniocentesis performed?
The procedure takes about 20-30 minutes and is done in your doctor’s office. First, your doctor performs an ultrasound to determine where your baby is. Then, your doctor will stick a thin, hollow needle into your abdomen and through your uterus to collect amniotic fluid. The procedure may sting, but there is no severe pain. Afterwards, you are advised to avoid any strenuous activity for the next two days and may experience a small amount of vaginal bleeding. Your results will become available within 1-4 weeks. Call your doctor immediately if you experience a fever, swelling at needle insertion point, heavy bleeding, unusual fetal activity, or a lot of fluid leaking from your vagina after the procedure.
Are there risks associated with an amniocentesis?
Yes, amniocentesis does carry rare but serious risks.
Miscarriage: Miscarriage results from less than 1%, or between 1 in 300 and 1 in 500, of procedures.
Injury: There is a chance that the baby moves during the procedure, which could result in a needle injury, though this is rare.
Amniotic Leak: Amniotic fluid may leak out through the vagina after the procedure. This is not a problem if the leak heals, but if it continues it can lead to birth defects in the baby.
Infection: If you have an infection such as HIV or Hepatitis C, it may be transferred to your baby during the amniocentesis. There is also a small chance the mother will get a urinary tract infection after the procedure.
Rh sensitization: If you are Rh-negative, you will need to receive Rh immunoglobulin after the procedure to ensure you aren’t sensitized to Rh-positive blood cells. Read more about Rh incompatibility here.
How do I decide if I want an amniocentesis?
You will meet with a genetic counselor before having the procedure. This is required for all patients. The genetic counselor will help you evaluate the risks and benefits of having an amniocentesis and help you decide.
How can I schedule an appointment with Dr. Morice?
If you are looking for an experienced OB GYN, Dr. Morice is here to help. Dr. Morice is the best choice for prenatal care and tubal reversal surgery. He is located in Morgan City, LA. Call our office at (985) 702-BABY to make an appointment.