More than 70 percent of pregnant women in the United States routinely screen their unborn children for things like Down syndrome, spinal cord defects or other genetic conditions. Not only is prenatal diagnosis important in determining the health of the fetus, they can also help identify health concerns for the mother.
What is prenatal diagnosis?
Prenatal testing, screening and diagnosis are important tools to help your doctor determine, before birth, whether your fetus has any genetic disorders or congenital anomalies. Tests can be anything from amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling (CVS) to a simple blood test. These tests are especially useful for children born to mothers over the age of 35 who are at an increased risk for genetic abnormalities.
How can prenatal diagnosis help protect my health?
Prenatal diagnosis has also helped reduce the mother’s risk of hemorrhage or stroke during childbirth by detecting conditions like placenta previa and preeclampsia.
- Placenta previa is a condition in which the placenta is too close to the cervix to allow for a safe vaginal delivery. Women with placenta previa are at a heightened risk of hemorrhaging, particularly during childbirth.
- Preeclampsia is a unique pregnancy disorder in which the expectant mother has continuous high blood pressure. This disorder can lead to stroke, kidney and liver damage, fluid in the lungs and seizures.
Prenatal blood tests are a sophisticated, highly sensitive and noninvasive method that can pick up very unexpected issues. If a woman’s fetus tests positive for genetic conditions, but her baby is born healthy, the test could reveal an underlying issue with the mother. Doctors are noticing that imbalances in the genetic material of the expectant mother may be associated with a tumor. Researchers and doctors were unaware that tumors could be a source of the false positive DNA results until 2013, however, it’s an extremely rare finding and will not be used as a cancer screen. While broad benefits of this finding have yet to be discovered, doctors continue to look for patterns that might suggest which expectant mothers are at risk for cancer.
Contact Pomona Valley Health Centers to learn more about prenatal diagnosis. We can help you have a happy, healthy pregnancy and delivery experience. Call us today at 909-536-1493 to schedule an appointment.