Prenatal Testing

Prenatal Testing

During pregnancy a woman should be having tests done left and right to ensure that she and her baby are in good health. Below are some of the various tests that should be done throughout pregnancy, and some that should be done during specific trimesters. All of them are similar, yet each test is unique. These tests provide useful information about your baby to help prepare you for when it arrives.

General Prenatal Tests

There are five tests in particular that you should definitely have done in the early stages of your pregnancy. Blood tests are a given, and should be done regularly. Urine tests are useful when trying to get pregnant, and are also a great way to check for certain bacteria, ketones, proteins, and sugars.

Paternity tests are usually done when the mother has had more than one partner during the timeframe in which her baby was conceived. DNA is the best way to determine parenthood. Learn more about paternity test options here.

The last of the basic tests is the ultrasound. This test should be done throughout the pregnancy, because there are many things you can learn about your baby as time passes. The abdomen and pelvic are scanned to create a sonogram of the baby and placenta. There are seven different ultrasounds that can be performed: 3-D, Doppler, Advanced, Standard, Transvaginal, 4-D, and Fetal Echocardiography.

The First Trimester

There are only two tests you should be having done during the first trimester: Chorionic Villus Sampling (or CVS) and the first Tri-Screen. CVS is a diagnostic test for identifying chromosome abnormalities and other inherited disorders. The first tri-screen combines a maternal blood-screening test with an ultrasound evaluation of the fetus. It also identifies risks for chromosomal abnormalities like Down’s Syndrome, Trisomy-21, and Trisomy-18.

The Second Trimester

There are a number of tests performed during the second trimester that focus on older women or women who have a family history of birth defects. That’s not to say that women under 35 with no family history of birth defects shouldn’t have these tests performed. They should.

The Quad Screen looks for four substances; AFT, hCG, Estriol, and Inhibin-A. The Triple Screen test, also known as MMS and AFP Plus, looks for three of the four substances the Quad Screen test looks for. Both of these tests check for genetic disorders.

MSAFP, also known as Maternal Serum Alpha-Fetoprotein Test, checks the levels of the protein in the mother’s blood. It’s not a diagnostic test, but rather part of the triple screen test that determines whether further diagnostic testing will ever be needed.

Amniocentesis is a test done following an abnormal triple test result. Specific genetic disorders can also be detected with this test, along with neural tube defects. Amniocentesis can also be done late in the pregnancy to see how the baby’s lungs are developing. This test can also be used to obtain DNA samples for paternity tests.

A PUB, or Percutaneous Umbilical Blood Sampling, is a diagnostic test that examines the blood of the fetus to detect abnormalities. The procedure is similar to amniocentesis, except that the goal is to retrieve fetal blood, not amniotic fluid.

The Third Trimester

There are only three tests that need to be done in the third and final trimester. BPP, a BioPhysical Profile test, combines an ultrasound with an NST. BPP examines breathing, movement, muscle tone, heart rate, and amniotic fluids. This test is usually done when the baby’s health is in question. The NST test is done to make sure that neither the mother or the baby suffers from gestational diabetes. Fetal NST is a test done after the 28th week of pregnancy. This test is done when the baby isn’t moving around a lot or if Mom is overdue. NST can also determine if the baby is getting enough oxygen.