Detect abnormal development – it is possible as early as the 10th week of pregnancy, but is usually only carried out from the 14th week of pregnancy: the amniocentesis (amniocentesis). It does not belong to the regular prenatal care.
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The most important facts at a glance
Once the parents have decided to examine the amniotic fluid, the attending physician first performs an ultrasound examination. In this, he determines the position of the unborn child in the uterus and tries to find a suitable puncture site for the amniotic fluid puncture.
Then he introduces a very thin needle into the abdominal wall and then into the amniotic sac. About the puncture site is the removal of 10 to 20 milliliters of amniotic fluid. The duration of the examination is 5 to 15 minutes. The puncture in the abdomen is often associated with only minor pain so that the puncture site is usually not stunned.
The amniotic fluid contains cells of the amniotic sac, which are then tested in the laboratory (FisH test). The results of an amniotic fluid examination are usually available after 24 to 48 hours. While trisomy developments such as Down’s syndrome and hereditary diseases can be diagnosed with almost 100 percent probability, other developmental disorders are not always apparent.
If the amniocentesis is carried out from the second trimester of pregnancy, it is also possible to make statements regarding the baby’s oxygenation by measuring the PH value. Also, the pulmonary maturity (in the last few weeks of pregnancy) and the paternity are detected using an amniotic fluid examination.
The costs for an amniotic fluid examination are taken over for pregnant women over 35 years of age as well as for medical indication by the legal health insurance companies, since in these cases a high-risk pregnancy exists, which is connected with special medical prevention and treatment measures.
The risks of an amniocentesis
The risk of miscarriage due to an amniocentesis depends on several factors. For example, the pregnancy week and the age of the pregnant women play an important role. The experience of the treating physician also influences the level of risk. In older pregnant women and early stages of pregnancy, the risk of miscarriage is significantly increased. According to various studies, it is 0.6 to 5.1 percent; the risk depends on the factors mentioned above.
As additional application risks apply to an amniotic fluid puncture:
- too much amniotic fluid loss
- Injuries and bleeding in the uterus
- Emergence of infections
- Injuries of the unborn child when inserting the needle or sudden child movements
After an amniocentesis, it is important that the pregnant woman spares about a day to minimize the risk of miscarriage. After that, an ultrasound check of the amniotic fluid is made.
Salivary and blood testing soon as an alternative to amniocentesis
In the summer of 2012, researchers in the United States were able to identify the genome of their unborn baby for the first time from the blood and saliva of pregnant women.
This scientific progress may make the amniotic fluid puncture necessary in the future in only a few cases. Unfortunately, it is still unclear when appropriate examinations in the context of prenatal care in Germany can be carried out in the USA.