Prenatal tests are screening or diagnostic tests that can help identify health
problems that could affect pregnant women or their unborn babies. Some of these conditions
can be treated, so it's important to find them as soon as possible.
Why Are Prenatal Tests Done?
Prenatal tests are given in the first,
second, and third
trimesters. In a mother, they can determine key things about her health that can affect
her baby's health, such as:
identify treatable health problems that can affect the baby
show characteristics of the baby, including size, sex, age, and position in the
help determine whether a baby might have a birth
defect, genetic problem, or other condition
Some prenatal tests are screening tests that can only reveal the
possibility of a problem. Other prenatal tests are diagnostic tests that
can accurately find whether a fetus has a specific problem. A screening test sometimes
is followed by a diagnostic test.
Although your health care provider (who may be your OB-GYN, family doctor, or a
certified nurse-midwife) may recommend these tests, it's up to you to decide whether
to have them.
Who Should Have Prenatal Tests?
Some prenatal tests are considered routine — that is, almost all pregnant
women receiving prenatal
care get them. They include things like checking urine (pee) levels for protein,
sugar, or signs of infection.
Other non-routine tests are recommended only for some women, especially those with
high-risk pregnancies. These may
include women who: