Nothing can be a better feeling than the news of being the parent. The news gives us the heavenly pleasure and we start planning many things with the unborn baby. But have you ever planned to check the baby’s health inside the womb? What? USG? Do you really think USG is enough? USG is just one part of prenatal screening. In order to know more, other components of prenatal screening are equally important.
What is Prenatal Screening?
Prenatal screening is a set of medical tests or procedures which are performed during pregnancy to check whether the upcoming baby is healthy, has any defect. These tests give information about the health condition of the baby and the mother.
When are these tests done?
The prenatal tests are performed as early as the first trimester period. The first trimester period can begin as early as 10 weeks.
First Trimester Tests:
An ultrasound test uses sound waves to create an image of the baby in the uterus. This technology uses sound waves to make pictures of the baby. This test tells the size and the position of the baby. The baby’s bone structure and organs can also be tracked in this.
Sequential screening test and Serum integrated screening tests are conducted. These tests are conducted to check plasma protein and human chorionic gonadotropin hormone. If these two are in abnormal levels then there is a risk of chromosome abnormality. Other blood tests to check for syphilis, hepatitis B, HIV and immunization against rubella are also taken. The mother’s Rh compatibility with the growing fetus is also checked. Rh positive is the result in most cases. If the result is Rh negative then the mother’s body will produce antibodies that will affect any later pregnancies.
Rh-immune globulin will be given at the 28th week and few days after delivery if the Rh is incompatible. This happens when the mother’s and the baby’s Rh is different.
Chorionic Villus Sampling
In chorionic villus sampling test, a small piece of tissue is taken from the placenta. This is used to check for abnormalities like down-syndrome, birth defects. There are two forms of the test. The first type test is conducted through the belly, which is known as the transabdominal test, and the next tests are conducted through the cervix, which is known as the transcervical test.
Second Trimester Tests:
A quad marker blood test is done to check for birth defects. It measures four of the fetal proteins.
Glucose screening is done to check for gestational diabetes. This is a temporary condition, which is developed during pregnancy. Gestational diabetes might increase the need for cesarean because babies are born larger in this case. The baby might also have low sugar after the delivery. It involves drinking a sugary solution, having the blood drawn, and then checking your blood sugar levels. If the results come out positive then there is a chance that the mother will have diabetes in the upcoming ten years.
The doctor will take a thin needle and use that to check the fluid in the mother’s stomach for genetic disorders or birth defects. It contains fetal cells with the same genetic makeup as the baby, and various chemicals produced inside the body of the baby. There are risks to taking this test, hence, the doctor will recommend on doing this test, only if necessary. The test might be taken if :
- The prenatal tests have abnormal results
- The family has a history of the genetic disorder
- The age is of thirty-five or older
- There is chromosomal abnormality during a previous pregnancy
Third Trimester Tests:
Group B Strep Screening
Group B Streptococcus (GBS) is a type of bacteria, which can cause serious infections in pregnancy cases. This bacterium is often found in the following areas of the mother
- Lower intestinal tract
This bacterium is generally not harmful to the mother but the new-born baby gets affected since his/her immune system is still developing. These bacteria can cause serious infections in babies exposed during birth. The screening can be done by a swab taken from your vagina and rectum at 35-37 weeks.
If tested positive you’ll receive antibiotics while you’re in labor to reduce your baby’s risk of contracting an infection.
Doctor’s Care and Guidance
Doctor guidance is important during pregnancy times. Doctor’s advice can be an important source of information for many people. Talk to your doctor about your concerns if you’re nervous to take the tests. A generic medical counselor might also help. They can discuss the risks and benefits with you and help you decide whether prenatal screening is right for you.