Top 10 Prenatal Tests

Prenatal Screenings, p.2

  • Sugar in their urine, which may signal diabetes. In addition, you'll be offered up to four other procedures:
  • Triple-screen test. Conducted at about the 16th week of pregnancy, this measures the levels of three chemicals in your blood that can predict whether your baby is at increased risk for conditions such as Down syndrome and spina bifida.
  • Ultrasound. You'll have a first ultrasound between your fifth and seventh week of pregnancy to determine your baby's due date. A second one, after 16 weeks, can show much more: the baby's age and size, whether there's more than one baby, and signs of major birth defects. As with triple screens, ultrasounds require further testing for a definite answer.
  • Chorionic villus sampling (CVS) or amniocentesis. These tests are not given automatically because they carry a low risk of miscarriage (affecting approximately 1% and 2% to 3% of pregnancies, respectively). Your obstetrician may recommend one if you are 35 or older, if you have a family history of a genetic disorder, or if your triple screen test or an ultrasound reveals a potential abnormality.

To find out how you can participate in a national clinical trial comparing success rates of surgery for spina bifida during pregnancy and after birth, go to

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Copyright © 2003. Reprinted with permission from the March 2003 issue of Child magazine.

All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.

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