There are various conditions or diseases doctor can identify
by conducting diagnostic test during the pregnancy. Any
birth defects or any possible problems during pregnancy
can be detected by these test.
The following are the tests :
Regular Blood Test
Confirmation of pregnancy
AIDS Blood Test
Hepatitis 'B' Blood Test
Rubella Blood Test
Alpha Feto Protein Blood Test
Neutral Tube Defects
Confirmation of Pregnancy
(including Down Syndrome)
Regular Blood Test
The most common means of pregnancy testing is the detection
of a certain hormone 'HCG' in the blood. Checking of the blood group,
Rh factor and hemoglobin levels and platelet counts.
Women make up one of the fastest growing groups infected
with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). HIV is the causative
agent of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). HIV infection
can lead to a progressive debilation of the immune system, which
normally fights infection pregnancy may hide some of the symptoms
of AIDS which makes the disease harder to discover. Children diagnosed
with AIDS in the first 6 months of life rarely survive beyond their
first year. Testing includes two test - the Elisa Test and the Western
Blot Test. The Elisa is a screening test. If it is positive, it
should be confirmed by Western Blot Test.
Hepatitis 'B' Test
Hepatitis 'B' is a viral infection of the liver. It is one
of the most serious infections that can occur during pregnancy.
Hepatitis B is transmitted by sexual contact and reuse of needles.
Those at risk of Hepatitis B include those with a history of intravenous
drug use a history of sexually transmitted diseases or exposure
to people or blood products that contain Hepatitis B. The 'B' type
of virus can be transmitted to a developing fetus of a pregnant
If you test positive for Hepatitis B at the beginning of pregnancy,
it may be necessary to give your baby immune globulin against Hepatitis
following delivery. It is now recommended that all new borns receive
this vaccine shortly after birth.
Rubella Blood Test
Malformation, including deafness, blindness and heart disease,
may occur if your baby is exposed to the virus of German Measles
(Rubella) especially during the first 3 months when all vital organs
are forming and developing.
If you have not had german measles as a child, consult your doctor
and ask for a blood test to find out whether or not you are immune.
If you are not immune, you should be vaccinated against Rubella.
You should wait minimum 3 months before trying to conceive. If you
do become infected, you may have to make a decision to terminate
Alpha Fibo Protein (A.F.P) Blood Test
This is another blood test called maternal alphafeto protein
(MAFP). It is designed to detect babies with spina bifida or meningomyelocele
(neural tube defects) before birth.
Some couples may consider abortion for this reason. This test is
performed between the 16 and 20 weeks of pregnancy and must be correlated
with your age, weight and gestational age. If test is abnormal an
ultrasound and amniocentesis may be done.
Some researches have also found a correlation between this test
and Down's Syndrome. The MSAFP offers about 85% accuracy in assessing
open neural tube and abdominal wall defects, but only 20-25% accuracy
to Down Syndrome. Statistics show that while only 1 to 2 women in
a 1000 have a foetus with a neural tube defect (NTD) about 50 of
these women have high levels of AFP in their blood when tested.
Urine will be tested throughout the
pregnancy for elevated levels of sugar and protein either of which could be a problem.
An occasional increase in sugar is normal during pregnancy, though elevated levels at a
couple of pre-natal visits would mean that you're developing gestational diabetes.
Excess protein in the urine could be a sign of pre-eclampsia. Pre-eclampsia is development
of hypertension. The term pre-clampsia also called toxemia. Pre-eclampsia problems are
characterized by a collection of symptoms
1. Swelling (edema)
2. Protein in urine (proteinuria)
3. Hypertension (high blood pressure)
4. A change in reflexes
One of the main line of treatment is bed rest.
Ultrasound is very useful as a way of determining the
age of the fetus, the position of the placenta and your expected date of delivery.
During this exam, high frequency sound waves are transmitted through the uterus and
bounced off the fetus. A computer then translates the echoing sounds into video images
that reveal the baby's shape, position, movement. The series of television - monitor,
images is called a sonogram.
Uses of Ultrasound
To determine the age of the fetus by taking measurements of the head and
body . If done early in pregnancy, this is accurate within one week.
To measure growth retardation when clinical examination suggest
something is wrong.
To find the exact position of the baby and the placenta prior to
To locate the position of the placenta and its condition, should it
become dislodged late in pregnancy
To determine if you are carrying more than one baby.
To identify any growths in mother that might hinder delivery
To pick up visible abnormalities of the baby such as brain or kidney
To assess the amount of amniotic fluid in the uterus
To check for the presence of a heart beat
To find the cause of vaginal bleeding (if any)
Some authorities have stated that ultrasound is perfectly safe, but this is not proven.
Ultrasound has not been shown to cause mutation in a developing fetus (Mutations
are changes in genetic information, usually changes in the chromosome information or DNA).
Chromosome damage has not been found in studies on the safety of ultrasound.
Best time to have ultrasound
Ultrasound is usually preformed between the 16th and 20th week of pregnancy. If there's
any sign of problem it can be done as early as 7th week until the end of pregnancy.
Determination of sex of child
Some women ask for ultrasound to determine whether they are carrying s boy or girl. If the
baby's in a good position and it is old enough for the genitals to have developed and you
can see them clearly, determination may be possible. After 24 weeks it is more possible.
This is the test of your amniotic fluid that
can rule out or diagnose certain birth defects, with great accuracy. It is most commonly
used to determine
such as down syndrome
Whether the baby's lungs are
Neural tube defects such as
Whether the mother or baby is
The baby's sex and general
Reason for amniocentesis
Certain diseases run in the family such as errors of the metabolism
Whether the child will be affected if the mother is a carrier of genetically linked
disorders such as hemophilia
How is the test performed
After an ultrasonic scan to determine the position of the fetus and the placenta, a
small area of the abdomen is treated with local anesthetic and a long hollow needle
surmounted by a syringe is carefully inserted into the womb. About 2 tablespoons of fluid
is withdrawn from the amniotic sac. The fluid is then spun in a centrifuge to separate the
cells shed by the baby from the rest of liquid. The cells are cultured for 2-5 weeks.
Risk of Amniocentesis
About one in 200 women get an infection or some other complication that results in
miscarriage. Some women leak amniotic fluid or notice vaginal spotting. Leakage will most
likely stop on its own within a few days. A fever of over 100 degrees, chills,
contractions, irritability and uterine tenderness indicates an infection.