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  • Topic: Pregnancy, Amniotic fluid, Embryology
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  • Published : April 19, 2006
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The risks of having an Amniocentesis

Women around the world have used amniocentesis for over a hundred years

(Woo, 2006). Along with the many benefits of amniocentesis, there are still many risks

Involved with the procedure. The mother has to decide between knowing with certainty of

her unborn child's diagnosis versus the risk of permanent damage or even the death of her

fetus. Amniocentesis negatively affects both the mother and the fetus.

Amniocentesis is a prenatal test that allows parents to gather information about

[their] baby's health and development. Amniocentesis will allow doctors to diagnose and

perhaps even treat any genetic abnormalities that the test might reveal. The test is

Performed by taking a sample of the mother's amniotic fluid which is the clear, pale,

yellow fluid that surrounds and protects the baby (Baby Center: "Amniocentesis", 2005).

The first reported case of amniocentesis was in 1877 by Prochownick, Von Schatz

and Lambl. That particular procedure was Tran abdominal amniocentesis and performed

during the third trimester of pregnancy. Fuchs and Riis reported the first use of amniotic

fluid examination in diagnosis of genetic disorders in 1956. "They determined fetal sex

cells in amniotic fluid based on the presence or absence of the Barr body" (Woo, 2006

para 3). The ultrasound was used in assisting amniocentesis in 1972 and was primarily

pioneered by Jens Bang and Allen Northeved. Even with the technological advances

made through out the years, the fatality rate of amniocentesis during the early stages of

pregnancy was 2.3%, and therefore it was not a generally accepted practice (Woo, 2006).

At the beginning of the procedure, the mother is positioned flat on an examination

table and the area where the needle will be inserted is sterilized with either rubbing

Alcohol or an iodine solution. While local anesthetic is an option, many women choose not to have the anesthetic as the pain from the shot is very similar to the amniocentesis it

self (Baby Center: "Amniocentesis" What is amniocentesis? 2005). An "ultrasound is

used to help guide a hollow needle into the amniotic sac" to draw out the amniotic fluid

("High Risk Pregnancy", 2006 para 2). The amniotic fluid that is removed is only about

two teaspoons and the baby will replace the fluid (Baby Center: "Amniocentesis" What's

the procedure like? 2005) The needle goes through the stomach and the uterus

(Professional and Researchers, 2006). The amniotic fluid that is withdrawn is sent to the

laboratory for analysis ("High Risk Pregnancy", 2006).

Amniocentesis can be performed as early as the eleventh week after the mother's

last menstrual period (Professional and Researchers). Usually amniocentesis is done

between the thirteenth and the twentieth week of pregnancy (Baby Center:

"Amniocentesis", 2005). This is during the second trimester (Professional and


Amniocentesis is done for various reasons. Amniocentesis can determine if fetus

has chromosomal abnormalities, neural tube defects, and some inherited disorders

(Amniocentesis: What type of disorders can be determined by amniocentesis?, 2006). A

few examples of chromosomal disorders that amniocentesis can is Down Syndrome and

Edwards Syndrome. Some other genetic disorders that amniocentesis can help diagnose

are cystic fibrosis, sickle cell, Tay-Sachs disease and Huntington's disease (Baby Center:

"Amniocentesis", 2006).

Amniocentesis testing can also be done to check for lung maturity of the fetus.

"After the thirty-second week of pregnancy, amniotic fluid can be tested to see if the

baby's lungs have matured enough for the baby to be born early". The test can also check

for Rh sensitization. Rh sensitization is where there are problems between the mothers

blood and the baby's blood (Amniocentesis,...
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