What is amniocentesis?
Amniocentesis is a prenatal test that allows your healthcare practitioner to gather information about your baby’s health from a sample of your amniotic fluid. This is the fluid that surrounds your baby in the uterus.
The most common reason to have an “amnio” is to determine whether a baby has certain genetic disorders or a chromosomal abnormality, such as Down syndrome.
Just like chorionic villus sampling (CVS), a procedure done in the first trimester, amniocentesis produces a karyotype – a picture of your baby’s chromosomes – so that your caregiver can see for sure if there are problems. (In about 1 percent of cases, there’s a problem with the specimen and the test doesn’t yield a result.)
Amniocentesis is usually done when a woman is between 16 and 20 weeks pregnant. Though all women should be offered the option of having an amnio, women who choose to have this test are often those at increased risk for genetic and chromosomal problems, in part because the test is invasive and carries a small risk of miscarriage.
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