How Many Blood Tests During Pregnancy

What Tests Are Done In The Second Trimester

How do blood pregnancy tests work, and what does less than 2 mean?

Your provider may offer you these prenatal tests in your second trimester :

  • Maternal blood screening . This screening test checks your blood to see whether your baby may be at risk for some birth defects, such Down syndrome. Its called a quad screen because it measures 4 substances in your blood: alpha-fetoprotein , estriol, human chorionic gonadostropin and inhibin A. The test is done between 15 and 22 weeks of pregnancy.
  • Ultrasound. Your health care provider will perform an ultrasound between 18 and 22 weeks of pregnancy. The ultrasound will check your babys growth and development and check for any birth defects.
  • Amniocentesis. During amniocentesis, a sample of amniotic fluid is taken from around the baby. The fluid is tested to see if your baby has a birth defect or genetic condition. The test usually is done between 15 and 20 weeks of pregnancy. Your provider may want you to have amniocentesis if youre older than 35, if there is a history of genetic conditions in your family, or if your first-trimester screening shows that your baby is at increased risk for birth defects.
  • Glucose screening. This screening test checks to see whether you may have gestational diabetes. This is a kind of diabetes that some women get during pregnancy. You get this test between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy.

Consider The Pros And Cons Of Genetic Screening Tests

Carrier screening. Before your pregnancy or during your first trimester, your doctor might recommend a type of genetic blood test calledcarrier screening, which scans your DNA for genetic mutations associated with certain genetic disorders that you might pass on to your child. Often, your decision to test will be based on your family history or ethnicity.

Sickle cell disease, for example, is more common in people of African descent and conditions like Gaucher disease, Niemann-Pick disease and Tay-Sachs disease are more common in people with Eastern European or Ashkenazi Jewish heritage. You might also screen for genetic conditions you know run in your family, such as Huntingtons disease. Cystic fibrosis, which damages a babys lungs and digestive system, is one of the most common genetic disorders, and therefore testing for it is often recommended early in pregnancy.

One major drawback to carrier screening tests, according to Blair Stevens, M.S., a licensed genetic counselor specializing in prenatal and reproductive genetics at the University of Texas, is that they wont tell you with certainty whether your baby has a given genetic condition only her risk for it. While this knowledge may be enough for some people, others may find the uncertainty stressful.

Chromosomal abnormalities can happen by chance, so anyone thats pregnant can have a baby with a chromosome condition, regardless if their family is healthy or if theyre healthy, said Stevens.

What Do Screening Tests Involve

The screening tests offered during pregnancy in England are either ultrasound scans or blood tests, or a combination of both.

Ultrasound scans may detect conditions such as spina bifida.

Blood tests can show whether you have a higher chance of inherited conditions such as sickle cell anaemia and thalassaemia, and whether you have infections like HIV, hepatitis B or syphilis.

Blood tests combined with scans can help find out how likely it is that the baby has Down’s syndrome, Edwards’ syndrome or Patau’s syndrome.

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What Is A Prenatal Panel

A prenatal panel is group of blood tests that are done early in pregnancy. The tests are used to check for diseases and infections that can affect the health of a pregnant woman and her unborn baby. The results can guide treatments, which may help prevent serious complications. A prenatal panel usually includes the following tests:

Other names: obstetric panel, OB panel

Blood Tests In Pregnancy

Blood Tests During Pregnancy

Your midwife or doctor will want to do a blood test in early pregnancy to find out your blood type and check for some infections and other health concerns.

These include your rubella immunity, and whether you have anaemia, HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C or syphilis. Depending on your results, your health professional will let you know about the best treatment for you in pregnancy or straight after the birth.

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Why Do You Need To Do Plenty Of Blood Tests During Pregnancy

It can be overwhelming to take so many tests during pregnancy, especially if you are going through morning sickness or are very tired, but they are important. Getting them done is a part of the routine checkup. There are many reasons why you will be asked to take blood tests during your pregnancy. The important ones are:

  • A blood test is done to confirm your blood group. It is also done to identify any infections or diseases you may have. The test also indicates if the foetus is at the risk of any abnormalities.
  • It throws light on your overall health and if there is a possibility of any issues later during your pregnancy.
  • Doctors check if you are Rh-positive or negative through a blood test.

Everything You Need To Know About Blood Tests During Pregnancy

They can reveal valuable health information about you and your baby, but some come with more considerations than others.

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This guide was originally published on May 13, 2019 in NYT Parenting.

For many parents-to-be, the barrage of tests and recommendations during pregnancy can lead to a mixed bag of emotions. On the one hand, they can provide relief in knowing that you and your baby are healthy. On the other, they can be overwhelming and stressful, revealing more information than you and your partner are comfortable with, compounding the anxiety of pregnancy.

Dr. Britton Rink, M.D., an ob-gyn and director of medical genetics for the Mount Carmel Health System in Columbus, Ohio, said that the heavy marketing of genetic tests by the companies that make them can be valuable in informing patients of their testing options, but it can also be difficult for patients to get the message that all testing is optional.

To help you understand the ins and outs of prenatal blood testing, I reviewed the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists guidelines, read several scientific studies and spoke with two ob-gyns and a prenatal genetic counselor.

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What Details Do Pregnancy Blood Test Results Show

All blood tests are done to determine whether the foetus is growing well and is healthy. Pregnancy blood tests reveal if there are any problems or complications at present or if they could arise as the pregnancy progresses. Some important results that the blood tests confirm are:

  • The blood group and type of the mother.
  • If there are any diseases like Rubella, Syphilis, Hepatitis B affecting the mother.
  • If she has gestational diabetes or is suffering from any other infectious illness.
  • If the foetus is healthy and growing well without any birth defects.

What Is A Group B Strep Culture

Blood Tests for Pregnancy: What You Need To Know

Group B streptococcus are bacteria found in the lower genital tract of about 1 in 4 women. GBS infection often causes no problems in women before pregnancy. But it can cause serious illness in the mother during pregnancy. GBS may cause chorioamnionitis. This is a severe infection of the placental tissues. It can also cause postpartum infection. Urinary tract infections caused by GBS can lead to preterm labor and birth, or pyelonephritis and sepsis.

GBS is the most common cause of life-threatening infections in newborns, including pneumonia and meningitis. Newborn babies get the infection during pregnancy or from the mother’s genital tract during labor and birth.

The CDC advises that all pregnant women be screened for vaginal and rectal group B strep between 35 to 37 weeks gestation. If you have certain risk factors or a positive result, you should be treated with antibiotics. This will lower the risk of passing GBS to your baby. Babies whose mothers get antibiotics for a positive GBS test are 20 times less likely to develop the disease than those whose mothers don’t get treatment.

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Who Blood Testing During Pregnancy Is For

Routine bloodwork during pregnancy is par for the course, meaning that virtually every mom-to-be will have blood tests at the start of her pregnancy and beyond.

Depending on your health and risk factors, your provider might recommend some additional blood tests to screen for possible complications or fetal abnormalities. Together, you can decide on the right amount of testing for you.

First Things First: Tests To Confirm That Youre Pregnant

All pregnancy tests work by detecting a hormone in your blood or urine thats there only if youre pregnant. This hormone human chorionic gonadotropin is produced when a fertilized egg implants in your uterus.

There are two types of pregnancy tests:

  • A urine test can be performed at your doctors office or with a home pregnancy test
  • Urine tests can usually tell if youre pregnant about one week after a missed period
  • A blood test checks your blood for hCG, and you need to see a doctor to have this test
  • Blood tests can detect hCG earlier in a pregnancy than urine tests, usually 6 to 8 days after you ovulate
  • If a home pregnancy test shows that youre pregnant, call your doctor right away. He or she can use a more sensitive test along with a pelvic exam to confirm it. Plus, seeing your doctor early in your pregnancy helps you and your baby stay as healthy as possible .

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    First Trimester Prenatal Screening Tests

    First trimester screening is a combination of fetal ultrasound and maternal blood testing. This screening process can help determine the risk of the fetus having certain birth defects. Screening tests may be used alone or with other tests.

    First trimester screening includes:

    • Ultrasound for fetal nuchal translucency. Nuchal translucency screening uses an ultrasound to examine the area at the back of the fetal neck for increased fluid or thickening.

    • Ultrasound for fetal nasal bone determination. The nasal bone may not be visualized in some babies with certain chromosome abnormalities, such as Down syndrome. This screen is performed using an ultrasound between 11 and 13 weeks gestation.

    • Maternal serum tests. These blood tests measure two substances found in the blood of all pregnant women:

    • Pregnancy-associated plasma protein A. A protein produced by the placenta in early pregnancy. Abnormal levels are associated with an increased risk of chromosomal abnormality.

    • Human chorionic gonadotropin. A hormone produced by the placenta in early pregnancy. Abnormal levels are associated with an increased risk of chromosomal abnormality.

    When used together as first trimester screening tests, nuchal translucency screening and maternal blood tests have a greater ability to determine if the fetus might have a birth defect, such as Down syndrome and trisomy 18.

    When Will Pregnancy Test Show Positive

    Prenatal Blood Tests on Your First Visit

    As you start the baby-making journey, youll definitely want to know how soon can a pregnancy test detect pregnancy? It varies by test, but in short, the soonest a home pregnancy test can read positive is about four days before your first missed period, or about three and a half weeks after an egg is fertilized.

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    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.

    Why Do A Gender Blood Test

    One reason for a blood test is to avoid invasive prenatal testing in the case of a female baby.

    The majority of the sex-linked disorders are recessive disorders linked to the X chromosome and are manifested exclusively in males as they contain only a single X chromosome. According to estimates, the X-linked recessive disorders may occur in around 5 out of 10,000 babies.

    Non-invasive prenatal testing is adopted nowadays in health care systems in many countries worldwide. The aim of a blood test for baby sex determination is to decrease the total number of invasive prenatal tests since doctors refer only those pregnant with a male fetus for invasive testing.

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    What Are Screening Tests

    Screening tests are used to find people at higher chance of a health problem.

    This means they can get earlier, potentially more effective, treatment or make informed decisions about their health.

    Screening tests are not perfect. Some people will be told that they or their baby have a higher chance of having a health condition when in fact they do not have the condition.

    Also, a few people will be told that they or their baby have a lower chance of having a health condition when in fact they do have the condition.

    Are There Any Medications That Can Change The Result Of My Pregnancy Test

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    For the most part, medications do not change your pregnancy test results. Antibiotics, birth control, alcohol and many other drugs do not impact your test results. The main reason for a false-negative is testing too early. You might also get a false-negative if you use a home test incorrectly. Its important to follow the directions on your test kit to make sure you get an accurate result.

    However, fertility drugs are one exception. These medications can sometimes cause a false-positive on your pregnancy test. If youre taking fertility medications, reach out to your healthcare provider about your results to make sure they are accurate.

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    Tests Done Early In Pregnancyexpand All

    • What tests are done early in pregnancy?

      Several routine lab tests are done early in pregnancy, including

    • complete blood count

    • blood type and Rh factor

    • urinalysis

  • What does a complete blood count test for?

    A CBC counts the number of different types of cells that make up your blood. The number of red blood cells can show whether you have a certain type of anemia. The number of white blood cells can show how many disease-fighting cells are in your blood. The number of platelets can reveal whether you have a problem with blood clotting.

  • Will I be tested for blood type?

    Yes, during the first trimester of pregnancy you will have a blood test to find out your blood type, such as type A or type B. Also, your blood will be tested for the Rh factor.

  • What is the Rh factor?

    The Rh factor is a protein that can be found on the surface of red blood cells. If your blood cells have this protein, you are Rh positive. If your blood cells do not have this protein, you are Rh negative.

  • Why is it important to know your Rh status?

    If a woman is Rh negative and her fetus is Rh positive, the womans body can make antibodies against the Rh factor. These antibodies can damage the fetuss red blood cells. This usually does not cause problems in a first pregnancy, when the body makes only a small number of antibodies. But it can cause issues in a later pregnancy.

  • What is a urinalysis?

    A urinalysis is a test of your urine for

  • red blood cells, to see if you have a urinary tract disease

  • Pregnancy Blood Tests Not All Patients Need

    In a previous Your Pregnancy Matters article, we discussed prenatal ultrasound exams that may not be necessary for every patient. This time, we’ll focus on prenatal laboratory tests that, though commonly performed, might not benefit all patients, according to Choosing Wisely, a program founded by the American Board of Internal Medicine and Consumer Reports in 2012.

    Certain lab tests during pregnancy can provide invaluable data, but it’s important that Ob/Gyns order screenings in the proper context and appropriate combinations. When pregnancy-related lab work provides duplicate or conflicting results, patients and providers may be confused about the proper next steps in a patient’s care. Aside from causing undue financial costs, extra appointments, and stress, excess lab tests can lead to unnecessary interventions or treatments.

    You have the right to understand what is being recommended and why. Here are four lab tests identified by Choosing Wisely that providers should reconsider recommending for every patient and that patients should feel empowered to ask about.

    1. Inherited thrombophilia evaluation

    In patients with past pregnancy complications

    About the test: This blood test helps determine whether a patient is at increased risk for inherited thrombophilia a genetic mutation that increases the risk of developing blood clots during pregnancy.

    2. Serum aneuploidy screening after cfDNA aneuploidy screening

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