Prenatal Testing

While you are pregnant, your doctor may request certain tests to check the health of your baby. These are called prenatal tests, or antepartum tests. Many of these tests are peformed on an outpatient basis in our Antepartum Testing Center. The center is equipped with state-of-the-art technology. Staff include board-certified perinatologists, who specialize in the care of mothers and infants before, during and after birth. Registered diagnostic medical sonographers and certified genetic counselors complete the prenatal care team.

The sections below answer common questions about fetal testing.

What Is an Ultrasound?

An ultrasound is a procedure that uses sound waves to show a picture of a baby in the womb. Ultrasound is an important part of your prenatal care, providing information that assists your physician with your care. Our unit is accredited by the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine, which ensures our advanced capabilities and superior quality.

A routine ultrasound can be used to:

  • Identify the number of fetuses
  • Date a pregnancy
  • Measure fetal growth and size
  • Identify location of the placenta
  • Check for the need for further exams

What Is an Amniocentesis (Amnio)?

Amniocentesis is a common prenatal test in which a sample of amniotic fluid surrounding the fetus is removed and examined. The test is performed by inserting a needle through the abdominal wall of the mother under ultrasound guidance. This test diagnoses chromosomal abnormalities and certain birth defects typically between 16 and 18 weeks gestation.

It is offered under the following circumstances:

  • In women 35 years or older
  • A previous pregnancy or child with a birth defect
  • Suggestive screening test results
  • Other family history

What Is Genetic Counseling?

Genetic counseling is a communication session to educate the patient about prenatal testing options. The genetic counselor will provide you with general risks for birth defects and genetic abnormalities, review your medical / family history and discuss risks, benefits, and limitations of testing and answer your questions.

Counseling is offered to patients who:

  • Are 35 years and older
  • Have abnormal screening tests or ultrasounds
  • Have exposure to certain medicines, drugs, etc. during pregnancy
  • Have a history of genetic conditions in the family

What Is a Non-Stress Test?

A non-stress test is performed in the later stages of pregnancy to ensure fetal well-being. Indications for testing include problems in a previous pregnancy as well as high-risk factors such as diabetes or fetal intrauterine growth restriction. The procedure is performed by lying on a table with fetal monitoring equipment placed on your abdomen. The monitor records your baby's heartbeat and uterine activity.

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