Who has it, when, why, and what the results mean.

When is the test taken?

After you've found out you're pregnant, a blood sample is taken during your first prenatal visit to the doctor. More blood will likely be drawn during later prenatal checkups.

Who needs to take the test, and why?

Blood tests are routine for all pregnant women. The tests determine your blood type (A, B, AB, or O) and Rh factor (negative or positive). In addition, your blood will be tested for anemia (a test that will probably be repeated later in your pregnancy), for infections such as hepatitis B and syphilis, and for infection with and antibodies to German measles (rubella). You may be offered additional tests for HIV and toxoplasmosis.

What's involved?

Be prepared for a small needle stick, usually in the arm. The blood is then sent to a laboratory and analyzed.

When are test results available, and how are they interpreted?

Results from the tests are usually available within a few days. Performed properly, blood tests are nearly 100 percent accurate. They are interpreted in various ways, depending on what analyses have been performed on the blood, and what information your practitioner needs to know.

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