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Amniocentesis

Amniocentesis is a prenatal test that used to gather information about your baby's health and development. This is usually done between 15 to 20 weeks of pregnancy to determine whether a baby has genetic or chromosomal abnormality such as Down Syndrome. A small amount of amniotic fluid is removed from the sac that surround your baby. The fluid collected will then be sent to the laboratory for analysis.

What defects and disorders can be detected?

1.
Nearly all chromosomal disorders include Down Syndrome (Trisomy 21), Patau Syndrome (Triosomy 13), Edward Syndrome (Trisomy 18) and sex chromosome abnormalities. The test is >99% accurate in diagnosing these conditions.
2.
Genetic disorders include cystic fibrosis, sickle cell disease and Tay-Sachs disease.
3.
Neural tube defects include spina bifida and anencephaly.

Who has high risk of having abnormal baby and is advised to have a amniocentesis?

1.
Ultrasound scan or blood test at early pregnancy showed that your baby has structural defects associated with chromosomal problems.
2.
You has a child with genetic or chromosomal abnormality from previous pregnancy.
3.
You or your husband are carriers of genetic disorder such as cystic fibrosis or sickle cell disease.
4.
You or your husband have a family history that put your child at increased risk for genetic or chromosomal problems.
5.
Age of 35 years or more. Anyone can have a chromosomal abnormal baby, but the risk rises with maternal age.

What is the procedure?

Amniocentesis is an outpatient procedure which takes approximately 20 minutes to complete. Hospitalisation is not necessary.

1.
At first, your doctor will examine your baby and determine his location with ultrasound scan.
2.
Secondly, your belly will be cleaned with alcohol or iodine solution.
3.
Anaesthetic may be applied to your belly or a local anaesthetic may be injected. However, most of the mothers-to-be prefer not to have two needles because the pain from the anaesthesia injection is likely to be worse than that of the amniocentesis itself.
4.
Doctor will then insert a long, thin needle through your abdomen and into the womb. A small amount of amniotic fluid (about 20ml) will be removed. Your baby will make more fluid to replace what's taken out within 24 hours.

You may feel some cramping, pinching or pressure during the procedure, or you may feel no discomfort at all. Usually you will get the results within two weeks.

After the procedure, you will need to rest for the whole day. Avoid heavy lifting, intercourse and air travel for the next three days. You may have minor cramping for a day or so. If you have significant cramping, vaginal bleeding, or amniotic fluid leaking, contact your doctor immediately.

Risk of miscarriage from amniocentesis

It's often estimated to be between one in 200 and one in 400, there's no real consensus on the actual risk of miscarriage due to amniocentesis. Your particular risk depends largely on the skill and experience of the doctor performing the procedure.