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Amniocentesis: Everything You Want to Know

May 30, 2023

Pregnancy is also a time of anticipation and anxiety. Parents worry that the baby may have health problems despite taking all precautions. While most of the time, babies are born in great health, it is essential to know that there are options to learn more about the growing babies' health. One of those ways is through prenatal tests like Amniocentesis. Read below to learn what is amniocentesis and other useful information.

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 What is Amniocentesis?

During pregnancy, the fetus develops in the amniotic sac. The fluid surrounds the baby for protection within the sac. It also has some of the cells of the fetus and these have genetic material that enables the diagnosis of certain genetic conditions. This amniotic fluid and the uterine cells are drawn for testing. Amniocentesis is a prenatal diagnostic test that is performed to diagnose genetic conditions like cystic fibrosis or chromosomal problems like Down Syndrome. During this procedure, the health care provider will draw a small quantity of amniotic fluid using a thin needle from the sac around the fetus. This is then tested in the laboratory for defects.

The amniocentesis procedure is done during the second trimester, between gestational weeks 15 and 20. Having this test earlier poses certain risks, like a miscarriage. In a few rare cases, it may be performed during the later part of pregnancy or the third trimester. This is usually done as a treatment for polyhydramnios or to determine fetal lung development.

Who is Recommended for Amniocentesis?

Knowing the amniocentesis meaning, it is important to know that not all women are recommended for amniocentesis during pregnancy. It is done when:

  • There is a fetal abnormality detected during ultrasound.
  • A prenatal test shows there is a high risk of a chromosomal disorder.
  • If there isa family history of certain genetic disorders like cystic fibrosis or sickle cell disease. Or if the parent tests positive as a genetic disorder carrier.
  • If the pregnant woman is over 35 years of age at the time of delivery. It is researched that these women run a greater risk of delivering a baby with a chromosomal disorder.   

 What is Accessed during an Amniocentesis?

  • An amniocentesis test can determine genetic disorders, chromosomal disorders or congenital disabilities like Tay-Sachs disease, Anencephaly or Spina Bifida which are neural tube defects AND Down’s Syndrome. It involves drawing an amniotic fluid sample for testing the cell DNA for diagnosis.
  • RH disease is a serious condition where the mother and the foetus have different Rh blood types.
  • It is done for fetal lung testing when the delivery is planned for earlier than 39 weeks. In this test, the amniotic fluid is removed to determine if the lungs of the baby are mature for birth. This is very rarely done.
  • It is occasionally done to determine if the baby has an infection or illness.
  • It is also used when there is too much build-up of amniotic fluid in the uterus(polyhydramnios). An amniocentesis procedure is done to drain the excess fluid

Risks of Amniocentesis

Amniocentesis tests are generally safe but have a 1:900 risk. Though this risk ratio is small, it can be serious for both the mother and the fetus. These include:


Amniocentesis is done during the second trimester, and that carries a small risk of 0.1 to0.3% of miscarriage despite being performed by a skilled professional. As per research, the risk of miscarriage is higher if done before 15 weeks of gestation.

 Needle injury

During the tests, there is a likelihood of the baby moving a leg or an arm while injecting the needle and drawing the fluid. However, serious injuries are rare.

 Leaking amniotic fluid

In some rare cases, the amniotic fluid starts to leak from the vagina after the test. In most cases, the loss of fluid is small and stops in a week with little impact on pregnancy.

Rh Sensitization

Rarely, it causes the baby's blood cells to enter the mother’s bloodstream. Those with Rh-Ve blood who do not have antibodies have to be given an Rh immune globulin, after performing amniocentesis.

 Transmission of infection

Women with an infection like HIV/AIDS may transfer it to the baby during amniocentesis.

 Are the Amniocentesis Results Accurate?

This procedure takes about 30 minutes from start to finish, with the process of extraction taking only a few minutes. Most women do not find this procedure painful, but you may feel a sting or feel uncomfortable when the needle is inserted by the healthcare provider. Some may also feel a cramp like a period with a small menstrual flow during the procedure. It lasts only a few minutes. Coming to the question of accuracy, these test results are about 99% accurate in determining abnormalities. But it cannot measure the severity of the conditions. In some rare cases, factors like not collecting enough fluid lead to an inability to analyze the fluid.

 What Does the Amniocentesis Result Mean?

If the amniocentesis results are positive, then the fetus has a specific health condition, and you will be referred to a neonatologist. One thing to remember is that the results do not reveal these verity. Depending on the diagnosis, specific treatments, medications, or surgeries are suggested. Conducting these tests helps you give the best treatment possible early and also prepares you for caring for a child with special needs.

Read More : Your First Trimester Scan or Nuchal Translucency Scan


1.   What is amniocentesis class 12?

It is a procedure performed to gather useful information about the health of the fetus.

 2.   Is amniocentesis banned in India?

Yes. This technique was being used to determine the gender of the baby, and the female fetus was aborted. So this procedure is banned in India.

 3.   When is amniocentesis done?

The amniocentesis procedure is done between the second trimester, i.e., 15 and 20 weeks of pregnancy. In a few cases, these tests are done later in the pregnancy.

 4.   Why has amniocentesis been banned?

It can be used for prenatal gender determination, which leads to female infanticide, hence, it is banned in India.

 5.   Is amniocentesis painful?

No. It is usually not a painful procedure. But some women may have an uncomfortable feeling during the tests. It is more like a period of pain.

 6.   What does the amniocentesis test stand for?

It is a prenatal diagnostic test that is done by the doctor to check for birth defects like Spina Bifida, cystic fibrosis and Down Syndrome.


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