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Prenatal Testing

What is Prenatal Testing?

Prenatal tests are performed to provide information regarding the mother’s health and also the health of the baby before he or she is born. Routine prenatal tests are performed on a prenatal testing timeline. There are different prenatal tests that are applicable during each trimester of a pregnancy. Prenatal tests can be performed to determine a number of things, such as blood type (ABO Group & Rho(D) Typing Blood Test), infections (Antibodies Screen Blood Test, Cytomegalovirus (CMV) Antibodies Blood Test) and if the mother is immune to Rubella, aka german measles, (Rubella Antibodies) and Varicella, aka chicken pox, (Varicella Zoster Virus (VZV)). A hCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin Hormone) Pregnancy Test may be ordered throughout the pregnancy to monitor the hormone level that is produced by the placenta. A more detailed prenatal test, which is normally performed in the second trimester, is the Alpha-Fetoprotein (AFP) which is able to show signs of possible abnormalities such as spina bifida, down syndrome, chromosomal abnormalities, defects in the abdominal wall of the fetus, twins, and a miscalculated due date. This test is not diagnostic and therefore means it is not 100 percent accurate and is only a screening test. It can determine if a mother should have additional testing for her pregnancy. The most extensive test, which is normally performed in the third trimester, is the HELLP Syndrome Blood Test Panel. HELLP Syndrome is a life-threatening condition usually considered to be a complication of pre-eclampsia, high blood pressure in a pregnant mother. HELLP syndrome affects less than 1% of all pregnancies. However, it is a major health concern because it can be life-threatening to both the mother and the unborn baby.

Early Signs of Pregnancy

Some early pregnancy symptoms may show up right around the time a female has missed a period or shortly thereafter. Most females have early pregnancy symptoms by the time they are 6 weeks pregnant. Some of those symptoms may include mood swings, abdominal bloating, light bleeding or spotting, frequent urination, sore breasts, nausea, fatigue, missed period and most certainly a positive hCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin Hormone) Pregnancy Test.

Ectopic Pregnancy

An ectopic pregnancy is a condition where a fertilized egg attaches and grows in a location other than the inner lining of the uterus. Most ectopic pregnancies, otherwise called tubal pregnancies occur in the fallopian tube but can also occur in the ovary, cervix and abdomen. Two or more hCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin Hormone) Pregnancy Tests taken 48 hours apart may aid in this diagnosis. The hCG levels in a healthy pregnancy normally double every two days. A low or slowly increasing level may suggest an abnormal pregnancy which would be a sign of an ectopic pregnancy. If hCG levels are abnormally low, further testing is done to find the cause.

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