Pregnancy is a Beautiful Phase
Pregnancy is most often a wonderful time filled with excitement and the anticipation of a new addition to the family. Besides these feelings, the early weeks of pregnancy can also bring with it a lot of unexpected anxiety. Like most expectant mothers, you are also looking for reassurance that your baby is healthy. The good news is, your doctor is as eager as you and your family to ensure that you have a smooth pregnancy.
Stages of Pregnancy
Pregnancy is divided into three stages, each lasting about three months called trimesters. The first trimester covers the first 12 weeks of your pregnancy. The second trimester covers weeks 13 to 24, while the third trimester is from week 25 to 42.
At various stages of your pregnancy—the first and the second trimesters—your doctor may recommend different tests to ensure that your baby is developing normally. One such test, recommended today in many countries across the globe, is called PRENATAL TESTING.
Prenatal testing helps identify pregnancies with Down syndrome and other chromosomal conditions. Prenatal testing is offered in two steps:
Prenatal screening: Assesses the risk of you carrying a baby with Down syndrome or certain other chromosomal conditions.
First Trimester Screening for Early Down Syndrome Detection
A popular and advantageous model of prenatal testing is the combined first trimester screening test. It involves a simple blood test done on you when the fetus is between 9 weeks and 13 weeks, 6 days of age. Your blood is analyzed for 2 to 4 markers normally found in all pregnant women. The blood test is followed by an ultrasound examination when the fetus is between 11 weeks, 1 day and 13 weeks, 6 days of age which measures the amount of fluid behind the baby’s neck (Nuchal Translucency scan or NT scan). The blood collection for first trimester screening can be done using Dried Blood Spot which involves a simple finger prick. This is an alternative to blood collection in vacutainers.
Second Trimester Screening for Down Syndrome Detection
If you have missed the opportunity for first trimester screening, you can undergo the second trimester screening. The detection rate for Down’s syndrome is lower as compared to first trimester screening (around 65 – 70%), but it checks for open neural tube defects (ONTDs). ONTDs like spina bifida result from improper development of the brain and spinal cord, resulting in an opening along the spine or head after the baby is born.
NOTE: Blood is drawn from the mother’s arm and sent to the lab for analysis. High levels of a protein called AFP in the blood may be an indication of ONTD in the developing fetus.
Diagnostic tests: Detects whether your baby has Down syndrome or other chromosomal conditions.
After your baby is born, your worry still continues. Now, you think about your precious baby’s healthy future.
While most babies are born healthy, some may have an underlying disorder which often goes undetected at birth. It may lead to life threatening situations or cause physical and mental disability – if not detected early. Hence, along with timely vaccinations, healthy diet and routine care, a simple newborn screening test can protect your precious newborn’s future. Please consult with your doctor on when to take these extremely useful tests.
We, at PerkinElmer Genomics keep you informed when it matters the most during the pregnancy and after your baby is born through a systematic health program by working closely with referring physicians, enabling patients to obtain much of their care in their home environment.