Monday, March 31, 2014

Prenatal Testing

During pregnancy there are a bunch of different tests done to be sure you and your baby are healthy and stay healthy to the end.  At each prenatal visit there will be some new test that you will have the option to have or one that your doctor or midwife may feel is necessary for your circumstance.  

Your first prenatal visit is where your doctor or midwife will learn a slew of information about you by the testing done and the questions they ask.  They will do tests to find things such as:
  • Blood type
  • Rh factor (+ or -)
  • Anemia
  • Infections
  • Immunity to rubella and chicken pox
Your doctor or midwife may recommend a series of tests depending on:
  • Age
  • Family health history
  • Ethnicity
  • Results of routine testing

Some of the testing done are just screening tests. Screening tests only can determine risk or probability, not actuality.  From the information gathered of a screening test your doctor or midwife can then decide if further diagnostic testing should be done to give you a definitive result. Diagnostic tests and confirm and narrow down andy health problems in your or your baby.

Common prenatal tests that are offered and/or recommended throughout the pregnancy are:
Urinalysis - done routinely at prenatal visits to test, sugar, protein, ketones, leucocytes, white blood count, and bacteria -  used to diagnose:
--Urinary Tract Infection
Chorionic Villus Sampling - diagnoses some birth defects between 10 and 13 weeks such as:
--Down Syndrome
--Cystic Fibrosis
First Trimester Screening - detects some higher risk birth defects between 11 and 14 weeks such as:
--Chromosomal Disorders
--Heart Problems
Amniocentesis - diagnoses some birth defects between 14 and 20 weeks such as:
--Down Syndrome
--Cystic Fibrosis
--Spina bifida
Ultrasound -  Ultrasounds are not routine but common between 18 and 20 weeks.  They are used to detect any problems with the baby's organs and body systems and confirm the age of your baby and be sure he or she is growing properly.  You also may be able to find out the gender of your baby if he or she cooperates.
Glucose challenge screening - detects gestational diabetes between 26 and 28 weeks.  Depending on the results from the initial screening, your doctor may recommend the glucose tolerance test which is used to diagnose gestational diabetes.  
Non-stress test - If your baby is showing little to no movement or any signs of distress a non-stress test is done to determine the reasoning. It is a monitor placed around the baby bump to measure the baby’s heart rate based on his or her movement. Biophysical profile - This test is used along with a non-stress test to monitor the overall health of your baby and to help decide if the baby should be delivered early.
It is an ultrasound done after a non-stress test. The biophysical profile looks at 5 fetal things: 
--muscle tone
--heart rate
--amount of amniotic fluid.
Group B streptococcus infection - used to find bacteria that causes pneumonia in newborns - done between 36 and 37 weeks.

If your doctor or midwife recommends certain prenatal tests, don't be worried.  Never hesitate to ask as many questions as you want.  It is so important to keep yourself informed about what is going on. Don’t fret and remember that screenings do not diagnose, they detect possible risk.  Your doctor or midwife will guide you in the right direction to keeping you and your baby healthy.  

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