Second Trimester Prenatal Screening Tests
Second trimester prenatal screening may include several blood tests called multiple markers. These markers provide information about your potential risk of having a baby with certain genetic conditions or birth defects. Screening is usually done by taking a sample of your blood between 15 and 20 weeks of pregnancy . The multiple markers include:
AFP screening. Also called maternal serum AFP, this blood test measures the level of AFP in your blood during pregnancy. AFP is a protein normally produced by the fetal liver that is present in the fluid surrounding the fetus . It crosses the placenta and enters your blood. Abnormal levels of AFP may indicate:
A miscalculated due date, as the levels vary throughout pregnancy
Defects in the abdominal wall of the fetus
Down syndrome or other chromosomal abnormalities
Open neural tube defects, such as spina bifida
Estriol. This is a hormone produced by the placenta. It can be measured in maternal blood or urine to be used to determine fetal health.
Inhibin. This is a hormone produced by the placenta.
Human chorionic gonadotropin. This is also a hormone produced by the placenta.
Abnormal test results of AFP and other markers may mean that additional testing is needed. An ultrasound is used to confirm the milestones of your pregnancy and to check the fetal spine and other body parts for defects. An amniocentesis may be needed for an accurate diagnosis.
Can Walking Too Much Affect Early Pregnancy
There is a lot of confusion out there about the impact of exercise on early pregnancy. Some people believe that you have to take it easy during those crucial first few weeks, while others maintain that you can continue with your usual routine as long as youre feeling up to it. So, whats the truth
The honest answer is that its different for every woman. Some ladies can keep up their usual routine without any problems, while others find that even a short walk makes them feel exhausted. The best way to figure out whats right for you is to talk to your doctor theyll be able to advise you on the safest way to exercise during your pregnancy.
That said, there are a few general things to keep in mind. First of all, its always a good idea to stay hydrated, especially when youre pregnant. Make sure you drink plenty of water before, during, and after your walks. Secondly, take it easy when you first start exercising again. If youre not used to being active, its best to start off slowly and build up gradually.
Ultimately, the most important thing is to listen to your body. If youre feeling tired, dizzy, or sick, take a break. And always consult your doctor if you have any concerns.
Possible Risks Of A Blood Test In Pregnancy
There is very little risk associated with getting an hCG blood test.
You might feel lightheaded and faint, or have bleeding, infection, or bruising at the puncture site, or develop a hematoma .
Because veins and arteries differ in size from one person to another , getting a blood sample could be more difficult for some people.
In order to get the required blood sample, you might need multiple attempts to locate a vein.
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A Quantitative Or Blood Pregnancy Test Tells A Great Deal
Rachel Gurevich is a fertility advocate, author, and recipient of The Hope Award for Achievement, from Resolve: The National Infertility Association. She is a professional member of the Association of Health Care Journalists and has been writing about womens health since 2001. Rachel uses her own experiences with infertility to write compassionate, practical, and supportive articles.
Most pregnant women find out they are pregnant by taking a urine-based home pregnancy test. Sometimes, doctors suggest that you also take a blood pregnancy test. In specific cases, there are multiple reasons why a blood test may be preferred, but usually, a urine test is all you need. Below, we explain exactly what a blood pregnancy test is and how it differs from a urine test.
How Accurate Are Pregnancy Blood Tests
A blood test to detect pregnancy is about 99% accurate as this test can detect smaller amounts of hCG than a urine pregnancy testPregnancy Testing. Better Health Channel. Accessed 7/20/2022. .
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Pregnancy Tests Performed By A Doctor
Nurses, doctors or specialists confirm a pregnancy with either urine or blood tests. The urine tests are similar to the home ones.
The blood tests for pregnancy are more sensitive and accurate than urine tests. They can detect whether the hormone is present in your blood and how much hCG there is.
Testing the level of hCG and the rate at which it increases is one way your doctor can tell if your pregnancy is normal. For example, an extremely high hCG level may be a sign you are expecting twins or have some disorder.
How To Use A Home Pregnancy Test Kit
Home pregnancy test kits vary in their sensitivity to hCG. Most test kits are best used about one to two weeks after your period was due. Always strictly follow the manufacturers instructions. Generally speaking, most home pregnancy tests follow the same basic principles:
- You collect urine in a small container and dip the test strip into the urine. Alternatively, some kits offer a test strip that you hold under your stream of urine.
- To improve accuracy of results, it is best to test your urine when you first get out of bed. Early morning urine is concentrated and contains higher levels of hCG than at other times of the day.
- Most test strips indicate the presence of hCG by the appearance of a coloured line or dot.
- Results are rapid. Most test kits take only a few minutes to complete.
- Most kits come with a second test strip. This allows you to test again at a later stage.
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How Often Should Blood Pressure Medication Be Taken
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Pregnancy Tests That Your Doctor May Do
Your GP will probably do a urine pregnancy test to detect whether you are pregnant.
It is always a good idea to bring a sample of urine to the GP surgery with you if you think you may be pregnant. This will mean your appointment is not delayed.
It will also avoid the ‘stage fright’ that can occur when you are trying to pee and you know someone is waiting on you.
The pregnancy testing kit that your GP will use is like the kits that you can buy over the counter.
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Is A Pregnancy Blood Test Better Than A Urine Pregnancy Test
A pregnancy blood tests for hCG is more sensitive and therefore, more accurate than a urine pregnancy test. So even if your at-home pee test read positive, your practitioner might opt to run an hCG blood test to confirm the happy news.
Blood tests can also pick up hCG earlier than urine tests as soon as six to eight days after ovulation. That may be helpful for women undergoing fertility treatments, since it can indicate whether the treatment helped you conceive.
And if your provider opts to give you a quantitative hCG test, which measures the exact amount of hCG in your blood, it can give you additional information that a simple urine test cant.
How Do Pregnancy Tests Work
When you take a pregnancy test, its looking for the amount of human chorionic gonadotropin in your body. You can find hCG in your urine or blood. However, this chemical needs time to build up in your body, which can cause very early pregnancy tests to come back negative. Each day of early pregnancy, your body will create more hCG. As the weeks go on, youll have more and more hCG in your body, which will make it more likely that a pregnancy test will show as positive.
Pregnancy tests work by reacting to the amount of hCG in either your urine or blood. In a urine test, a piece of reactive paper detects the hCG. This might then show a plus sign, double vertical lines or even the word pregnant. Different tests will show a positive result in unique ways. Read the directions that come with the test to know what a positive result will look like. On the test, there will also be a control window that will show up first. Seeing a symbol in this window will tell you that the test is working. Keep in mind that different brands of tests will take different amounts of time to process.
If you take a blood test, your provider will take a sample of your blood and send it to a lab. The lab will determine the amount of hCG is in your blood.
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What If Cvs Is Not Possible
Women with twins or other higher-order multiples usually need sampling from each placenta. However, because of the complexity of the procedure and the positioning of the placentas, CVS is not always feasible or successful with multiples.
Women who are not candidates for CVS or who did not get accurate results from the procedure may require a follow-up amniocentesis. An active vaginal infection, such as herpes or gonorrhea, will prohibit the procedure. In other cases, the doctor may take a sample that does not have enough tissue to grow in the lab, generating incomplete or inconclusive results.
When Can You Take A Home Pregnancy Test
A pregnancy test detects the pregnancy hormone hCG in the blood or urine to determine if a woman is pregnant. How early pregnancy can be detected depends on finding the hCG hormone. hCG can be detected in urine or blood after implantation, which occurs on average, about 9 days after fertilization. Some home pregnancy tests claim to detect hCG as early as 4 days before the next expected period yet that claim depends on your luteal phase and how soon the embryo implanted. Quantitative blood tests can detect hCG levels as low as 1 mIU/mL, while urine tests have published detection thresholds between 20 and 100 mIU/mL, depending on the brand.
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How Common Is Spotting In Early Pregnancy
One small study showed less than one in ten women reported vaginal bleeding in early pregnancy. In most cases, the spotting occurred near the date their period was due. Spotting is even more common later in pregnancy. Up to 25% of women experience bleeding or spotting at some point during their pregnancy.
Spotting during early pregnancy could mean many things, including:
- changes in your cervix
Spotting in early pregnancy can also be due to implantation.
How Soon Can I Take A Home Pregnancy Test
It is recommended that you wait until you have missed a period to take a home test. A missed period is often one of the first signs of pregnancy. If you cannot wait that long to find out and you know the day you may have conceived, then the earliest you can take a test would be 14 days from possible conception.
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When Should I Get A Pregnancy Test
A pregnancy test is most commonly done when a person is believed to be pregnant. Testing may detect a pregnancy as soon as 10 days after conception. The accuracy of pregnancy tests usually increases if taken at least 1-2 weeks after a missed menstrual period.
It may also be done when there are signs and symptoms that suggest an ectopic pregnancy or a pregnancy that is failing.
Signs of an ectopic pregnancy may include:
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding
- Pain in the lower abdomen or pelvic area
- Cramping on one side of the pelvis
Additional and more severe symptoms may develop if an ectopic pregnancy is not identified and treated, so it is important for females of childbearing age to talk with a doctor if they notice these symptoms.
Pregnancy testing may also be done as a routine test prior to some medical treatments, such as surgeries or chemotherapy, that could potentially harm a fetus.
For any specific patient, a doctor is in the best position to determine if a pregnancy test is appropriate.
Tests To Screen For Birth Defects
Today there are several noninvasive screening tests available to you in the first and second trimesters of pregnancy to assess the chances that your fetus may have a genetic disorder and/or birth defects. If you are at risk, your doctor will discuss these optional tests with you.
- Sequential Screen A two-stage screening that assesses the risk of several chromosomal abnormalities including Down syndrome. The first stage can be performed between 11 weeks and 13 weeks and 6 days. The second stage can be performed between 15 and 22 weeks.
- Maternal Serum Quad Screen A maternal blood screening test that looks for four specific substances in the blood
- Alpha Fetoprotein This blood test checks the level of AFP in a pregnant womans blood during the second trimester
- Carrier Screening Testing thats done to see if you or your partner carry a genetic mutation that could cause a serious inherited disorder in your baby
- Non-invasive prenatal testing Also called cell free DNA testing , this blood test analyzes fetal DNA circulating in a pregnant womans blood it can be performed at 10 weeks. The American Congress of Ob/Gyn does not recommend NIPT in pregnancies when there is more than one fetus .
Its important to understand that these screening tests do not diagnose a problem they only signal that further testing should be done.
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Risks Of A Pregnancy Blood Test
Pregnancy blood tests are safe and unlikely to cause any major side effects. But the needle might pinch a little bit, and you might have some mild, temporary bruising at the site of the injection.
Its not unusual to feel nauseous, dizzy, clammy or even faint during a blood draw or even beforehand, if having blood taken makes you anxious. Eating or drinking something sugary or salty before your test can help just make sure to check with your provider first.
From the What to Expect editorial team and Heidi Murkoff, author of What to Expect When You’re Expecting. What to Expect follows strict reporting guidelines and uses only credible sources, such as peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions and highly respected health organizations. Learn how we keep our content accurate and up-to-date by reading our medical review and editorial policy.
How Many Pregnancy Blood Tests
Prenatal care involves several blood tests. Bear in mind, these tests arent mandatory so you can choose to have some, all, or none of them.
Before you decide to have a test, get all the information about what its for and what you want to get from the information.
These are the main pregnancy blood tests youll be offered:
- As a standard, an initial hCG blood test, which is done to confirm pregnancy
- An early pregnancy antenatal screen, for a range of STIs, iron levels, blood type, immunity for rubella, and some genetic disorders
- If youre choosing to test for Down syndrome, this test happens before 13 weeks
- The NIPT test, to check for fetal abnormality this can be done in the first trimester after 10 weeks
- Blood test at 24-26 weeks, for GDM and to retest your iron and vitamin levels
- A further test at around 34-36 weeks, to monitor iron levels again close to the time of birth.
However, if your pregnancy has complications, you could have further blood and urine tests.
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How Accurate Are Blood Pregnancy Tests
The blood test for hCG is the most accurate to detect a pregnancy, says Dr. Trolice.
Blood tests have a 99% accuracy rate, so they are almost always accurate. The main reason for this is that the quantitative test can detect even the smallest traces of the pregnancy hormone hCG. However, hormone levels can vary from one woman to another.
“The range of normal beta hCG levels is very wide,” says Dr. Serena Chen, a fertility expert at the Institute for Reproductive Medicine and Science at Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, New Jersey, “so it’s important to have the help of your doctor to interpret test results.”