Pregnancy Screening Helps Ensure A Healthy Pregnancy

Tests and screenings are performed throughout pregnancy to ensure a safe and healthy pregnancy and delivery. Depending on the type of test, doctors can use a blood sample, urine sample, or tissue sample from the vagina, cervix, or rectum. These tests can help determine the risk of complications for the woman and the baby.

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Routine tests during early pregnancy

Routine tests during early pregnancy

Several routine lab tests are done early in pregnancy. These include a complete blood count (CBC), blood type and Rh factor, urinalysis, and urine culture. Certain infections and diseases can cause pregnancy complications and are important to treat early in the pregnancy. Pregnant women are also tested for specific infections and diseases such as rubella, hepatitis B and C, sexually transmitted diseases, and tuberculosis.

When will you get an ultrasound?

Ultrasounds can help doctors in many ways. Ultrasounds are performed at various times throughout the pregnancy for several reasons, such as to:

  • Determine the due date
  • Assess the number of fetuses and placenta structures
  • Diagnose miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy
  • Examine the uterus, ovaries, and internal anatomy
  • Detect fetal abnormalities, behavior, position, and activity
  • Check the amniotic fluid

What is a screening test?

Screenings tests are intended to detect possible health problems, diseases, and congenital abnormalities. Based on the screening test results, the doctor may recommend additional diagnostic testing. These diagnostic tests can confirm or rule out health problems for the pregnant woman or the baby.

Routine screening to expect

Typical screening done during the first 11-14 weeks includes testing for higher risk for chromosomal disorders, including Down syndrome and trisomy 18, and other problems such as heart defects.  At 15-20 weeks, a maternal serum screen is performed to check for chromosomal disorders and neural tube defects. These screenings are done based on a sampling of blood and an ultrasound exam.

Different factors may lead to additional screenings

Throughout the pregnancy, the doctor may suggest additional tests. Some are recommended for all women,  such as screening for gestational diabetes, Down syndrome, and HIV. Other tests may be suggested based on these factors:

  • Age of the pregnant woman
  • Family and personal health history
  • The ethnic background of the parents
  • Results of the routine tests and screenings

It’s okay to ask questions

Pregnancy screenings and tests can be overwhelming, but doctors and medical professionals are there to ensure a healthy pregnancy and birth. Speak up and ask questions along the way to understand the process and what is expected. For more information about specific tests, speak with a healthcare provider.

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