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What is amniocentesis?

Amniocentesis is a test performed during pregnancy to diagnose genetic disorders, chromosomal abnormalities, and birth defects. It can also help diagnose certain infections and the maturity of your baby’s lungs. 

Amniocentesis involves inserting a needle through the abdomen to take out a small amount of amniotic fluid from inside the uterus. Amniotic fluid is the liquid that surrounds the growing fetus. The amniotic fluid sample is tested in a laboratory. 

An amniocentesis is only one method used to test for conditions of a fetus. You may have less invasive testing options. Discuss all of your testing options with your doctor or healthcare provider to understand which options are right for you.

Medical Reviewers: Daphne E. Hemmings, MD, MPH Last Review Date: Jun 30, 2013

© 2014 Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the Healthgrades User Agreement.

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Medical References

  1. Amniocentesis. American Pregnancy Association. http://www.americanpregnancy.org/prenataltesting/amniocentesis.html.
  2. Amniocentesis. March of Dimes. http://www.marchofdimes.com/pregnancy/prenatalcare_amniocentesis.html.
  3. Facts about Anencephaly. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/birthdefects/anencephaly.html.
  4. Screening for Birth Defects. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. http://www.acog.org/~/media/For%20Patients/faq165.pdf?dmc=1&ts=20130414T1508160672.

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