What Are The Risks of Amniocentesis?

January 31, 2013

Understanding what the risks of amniocentesis become easier once you have gained an understanding of the procedure.

The term amniocentesis derives from the Latin term which means “puncture of the amnion”. It is a procedure where a small amount of the amniotic fluid is aspirated from a pregnant woman’s uterus. The amniotic fluid is collected by introducing a needle into the woman’s belly and into the amniotic sac. The small amount of the amniotic fluid that is aspirated during this procedure is then sent to the laboratory for testing.

The test is used to detect certain irregularities in the fetus such as genetic defects, infections, or Rh sensitization.

The process is a delicate one but considered safe and is routinely performed by professional the world over. However, there has been cause for concern that amniocentesis is not without risk to both the mother and the fetus. Complications of amniocentesis while rare may include:

  • Miscarriage – While it was thought that approximately 1 in 200 to 400 women have miscarriages due to amniocentesis, latest research indicates that the figure may be as low as 1 in 1000.
  • The risks of a miscarriage due to amniocentesis at 37 weeks will be much lower than the risk of miscarriage due to amniocentesis at 36 weeks or 20 weeks. Usually, amniocentesis is only performed after the 15th week of gestation.
  • Uterine Infections – Amniocentesis may cause uterine infections in woman but this is rare, with the frequency of occurrence being less than 1 in 1000. Uterine infections usually appear within a few days of the amniocentesis test being performed and may result in premature labor.
  • Injury to the fetus – Since it is an invasive procedure, there is a slight chance that amniocentesis may result in injury to the fetus that may cause permanent damage.
  • Assisted delivery – Studies have shown that women who have amniocentesis have a lower chance of having a normal delivery and a higher chance of requiring an assisted delivery such as a forceps delivery.
  • Leakage of amniotic fluid – About 1 in 100 women may experience a small amount of leakage of amniotic fluid through the vagina. This is not a serious problem and usually clears up within a few days.

Some of the latest studies have shown that amniocentesis does not increase the risk of important adverse outcomes such as placental abruption or placenta pervia.


Submitted by N on January 31, 2013 at 02:53

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