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ROUTINE TESTS

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 :

Diagnostic Test  

Possible Findings

Regular Blood Test  

Confirmation of pregnancy

AIDS Blood Test  

AIDS

Hepatitis 'B' Blood Test   

Hepatitis B

Rubella Blood Test  

German Measles

Alpha Feto Protein Blood Test   

Neutral Tube Defects

Urine Test  

Confirmation of Pregnancy

Sonogram  

Genetic Deformities
(including Down Syndrome)

Amniocentesis N


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.


AIDS Test
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 woman.

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 your pregnancy.


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 Test
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.


Sonogram (Ultrasound)

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

  1. 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.

  2. To measure growth retardation when clinical examination suggest something is wrong.

  3. To find the exact position of the baby and the placenta prior to amniocentesis

  4. To locate the position of the placenta and its condition, should it become dislodged late in pregnancy

  5. To determine if you are carrying more than one baby.

  6. To identify any growths in mother that might hinder delivery

  7. To pick up visible abnormalities of the baby such as brain or kidney condition

  8. To assess the amount of amniotic fluid in the uterus

  9. To check for the presence of a heart beat

  10. To find the cause of vaginal bleeding (if any)

Safety Consideration
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.


Amniocentesis

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

  1. Chromosomal abnormalities such as down syndrome

  2. Whether the baby's lungs are mature

  3. Neural tube defects such as spina bifida

  4. Whether the mother or baby is RH-negative

  5. The baby's sex and general maturity

    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.