The Pros and Cons of Prenatal Testing

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In the last 20 years, there has been a significant rise in prenatal testing, especially genetic testing, since it helps the parents prepare better for a specially-abled child. During their first and second trimesters of pregnancy, women have the opportunity to know and learn about the health of their unborn child.

As per the Center for Disease Control or CDC, 3% of the babies in the United States are born with a birth defect. Prenatal genetic testing is helpful in detecting the chances of the presence of any conditions that can cause damage or premature death.

In Genetic testing, medical practitioners measure the levels of substances or markers in the mother’s blood and perform an ultrasound. The process is tailored to be easy and relatively painless to detect Down Syndrome or some other condition caused by a chromosomal problem, such as cystic fibrosis, Tay-Sachs disease, or sickle cell anaemia.

Types and Risks of Prenatal Testing

Prenatal diagnostic testing and screening have a few risks for the mother and baby, which is why it is important for parents to understand the full picture in order to make informed and rational decisions. Fortunately, the most common prenatal tests involving sonograms and blood tests are mostly risk-free.


USG Test – An ultrasound creates an image of the foetus and allows doctors to determine whether the baby is growing as they should be. Although some believe that sonograms are a factor in the development of autism, ultrasounds carry little to no risk to the baby or mother.

Blood Tests

Blood tests are taken at different stages in pregnancy based on factors such as maternal age, medical history and the results of earlier screenings and tests. Blood draws are considered very safe for the mother. However, these procedures can cause bleeding and hematomas. Having said that, they usually resolve themselves quickly with little to no negative aftereffects.


A needle is inserted into the mother’s uterus to extract amniotic fluid to test for genetic defects, Rh incompatibility, and maternal infection for the Amniocentesis test. However, 0.3% women, end up having a miscarriage because of the complications caused by amniocentesis. Needle injuries to babies during the procedure have also been reported as a complication.

Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS)

Chronic villus sampling or CVS involves inserting a thin catheter or needle either through the abdomen or through the cervix to remove extract placental tissue. The tissue is tested for genetic defects; the process can identify at least 200 potential problems. The procedure is riskier than amniocentesis; there is a 1 in 100 chance of miscarriage.

While these tests might have a few complications and side effects, the probability of these tests undergoing any complications are very little. At Apollo hospitals, you can get all these tests done, and predict any genetic defects that your unborn baby might have.  These results will help you predict any special steps that you might have to take for your child. Having that said, it is also great to be aware of the side effects that these tests carry with them.