Antenatal Screening Test

Submitted by Nick on October 19, 2012

Every year, millions of women give birth to millions of babies. Of these, almost 75% of the babies are born healthy, without any severe congenital defects. However, there are also those who develop severe defects while the fetus is still in the development stages. These defects and deficiencies could have been caused due to a number of reasons.

A lot of these defects and deficiencies are serious and could lead to severe mental or physical abnormalities. However, if the parents and the health care professionals know about the problems that the fetus may be facing, they may be more prepared to deal with the abnormalities or better still, they may be able to find a way to treat the fetus or the child when it is born.

If the child needs special care after being born, knowledge of the kind of defect or deficiency in the child may help the parents prepare themselves for the kind of care that the child may require. Some couples may even decide to terminate the pregnancy if the defect is particularly serious or life threatening.

What is Antenatal Screening?

Antenatal screening is a series of tests that are administered to assess the fetus. If the fetus has developed an abnormality or is growing abnormally, antenatal screening can help the health care practitioner find the problem out. However, screening of such problems is extremely different than diagnosis. A screening only allows the health care practitioner to determine the likelihood of a baby to develop certain abnormalities.

Reasons for Conducting the Test

Antenatal screening may be done in order to determine whether the fetus has been affected by genetic disorders or other complications like the Down's syndrome. Using the screening tests, one can find out about the problems in the fetal growth and any structural abnormalities.

In case a pregnant woman's risk of developing abnormalities or complications is high, the parents are informed and a pre natal diagnosis is made. With this pre natal diagnosis, the chances of the baby to be born with a complication are estimated.

Some of the commonly used antenatal screening tests and subsequently pre natal diagnostic tests include chorionic villus sampling (CVS) and amniocentesis. Most hospitals have the facility of conducting these tests. However, these tests are not offered routinely. These tests are highly invasive and are only done on women who have otherwise healthy bodies. If an antenatal screen is not performed properly, it may cause some damage or complication in the pregnancy due to its highly invasive nature.

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