Prenatal tests are tests are done during pregnancy to track the health of you and your baby. The tests can find many health problems early. Screening tests include ultrasounds, and blood and urine tests. They pose little risk to you and your baby. Further testing can be done if a problem is found. Samples can be taken from the placenta, amniotic fluid, or the baby's umbilical cord.
Tests can be used to look for:
- Treatable health problems in the mother that can harm the baby's health such as:
- Protection from certain health problems such as chickenpox or German measles
- Size, age, and sex of the baby
- How and where the baby is placed in the uterus
- Problems with genes
Tests can show problems in the genes that may point to:
- Down syndrome, trisomy 18, and trisomy 13—the risk of these goes higher with the age of the parents
- Huntington disease and achondroplasia
- Cystic fibrosis, sickle cell disease, Tay-Sachs disease, and beta thalassemia
- Spina bifida and problems with brain and skull growth
- Heart problems
Some birth defects can be found with these tests. Only some of these can be treated before birth or just after birth. Keep in mind prenatal tests do not test for everything. No prenatal test guarantees the birth of a healthy baby.
Practice bulletin no. 145: antepartum fetal surveillance. Obstet Gynecol. 2014;124(1):182-192. Reaffirmed 2019.
Prenatal testing. American Pregnancy Association website. Available at: https://americanpregnancy.org/prenatal-testing. Accessed July 2, 2019.
Prenatal tests. Kids Health—Nemours Foundation website. Available at: https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/prenatal-tests.html. Updated August 2018. Accessed July 2, 2019.
Routine prenatal care. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114252/Routine-prenatal-care. Updated May 31, 2019. Accessed July 2, 2019.
Last reviewed May 2019 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Mary-Beth Seymour, RN Last Updated: 7/2/2019