Prenatal testing is a term that includes many different tests that can be done during pregnancy. The tests are done to provide more information about your health and the health of your developing baby. Prenatal testing includes simple blood tests or urine analyses, as well as more invasive procedures, such as drawing fluid from the amniotic sac or fetal blood from the umbilical cord for testing.

Prenatal tests can be used to identify many different things, including:

  • Treatable health problems in the mother that can affect the health of the fetus
  • Characteristics of the fetus, including size, age, placement in the uterus, and sex
  • Possible presence of certain, genetic, or chromosomal problems

In the mother, prenatal tests are used to identify things that could possibly affect the developing fetus, including:

Prenatal tests can screen for many different congenital defects in the fetus, including:

About 250 different birth defects can be diagnosed through prenatal testing. Some can be treated in utero (before birth) or immediately after birth, but the majority cannot. Prenatal testing can be quite complicated. However, prenatal tests do not test for everything, and no prenatal test guarantees the birth of a healthy baby.

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