Understanding Carrier Screening and Amniocentesis During Pregnancy

When you’re expecting a baby, you want to do everything possible to ensure a healthy pregnancy and birth. At WomanCare, we provide comprehensive genetic screening options to help identify any potential risks or complications. Two important tests are carrier screening and amniocentesis.

What is Carrier Screening?

Carrier screening is a type of genetic test that analyzes your DNA to detect if you are a carrier for certain inherited genetic disorders. All of us can be carriers for these disorders without having any symptoms ourselves. However, if both parents are carriers, there is an increased risk of passing on the disorder to the baby.

One of the most common conditions screened for is cystic fibrosis (CF). CF is an inherited disease that causes thick, sticky mucus buildup in the lungs and digestive system. While treatments are available, CF requires lifelong management.

The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends that all pregnant women be offered carrier screening for CF and other genetic disorders like spinal muscular atrophy, fragile X syndrome, and others. Carrier screening is a simple blood test that can provide valuable information to help you make informed decisions during your pregnancy.

What is Amniocentesis?

Amniocentesis is a prenatal test typically performed between 15-20 weeks of pregnancy. It involves taking a sample of the amniotic fluid surrounding the baby to test for chromosomal abnormalities and genetic disorders.

This test is recommended for pregnancies considered higher risk, such as:

  • The mother is 35 or older
  • There are abnormal ultrasound findings
  • One or both parents are carriers of a genetic disorder
  • There is a family history of birth defects

During the procedure, your doctor will use ultrasound guidance to insert a thin needle through your abdomen to collect a small amount of amniotic fluid. This fluid contains cells shed by the baby that can be analyzed for chromosomal issues like Down syndrome, as well as hundreds of other genetic conditions.

While very safe, amniocentesis does carry a slight risk of miscarriage or other complications. Be sure to discuss the benefits and risks thoroughly with your WomanCare provider.

Accurate Results for Informed Decisions

The results from carrier screening and amniocentesis are highly accurate, giving you vital information to prepare and make decisions during your pregnancy. If a genetic disorder is detected, our genetic counselors can advise you on your options and resources for managing the condition.

Knowledge is power when it comes to your baby’s health. Let the experienced team at WomanCare provide you with carrier screening, amniocentesis, and other essential prenatal testing services. We’re dedicated to supporting you through every stage of your pregnancy journey. Schedule your appointment today.

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