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Antenatal Tests

 

Dating ultrasound

Ultrasound to confirm the due date, to check that the pregnancy is developing well, that it is not twins, that it is not a miscarriage and that it is not an ectopic pregnancy. If the patient wants a dating ultrasound it can be booked as part of the first appointment or, alternatively it can be organised by your GP.

 

Blood tests

General blood tests are performed early in the pregnancy and sometimes even before a woman falls pregnant. They include: Blood type, Full Blood Examination, Serology for infectious diseases such as Syphilis, Rubella, HIV, Hepatitis and others depending on each woman.

 

Morphology Ultrasound

At between 18 and 20 weeks of gestation, the fetus has already formed all the main organs. An ultrasound performed with a high resolution machine identified all the main structures (brain, heart, liver, lungs, stomach, kidneys, bladder, spine, limbs, fingers) and is able to diagnose any structural or anatomical defects.

Glucose Challenge Test

The GCT is done at around 26 weeks as screening for Gestational Diabetes. Pregnant women are susceptible to gestational diabetes and this most often than does not cause any symptoms. For the GCT the woman is asked to drink a solution high in sugar and to have a blood test for glucose levels one hour later. An abnormal result may indicate gestational diabetes and further testing is needed.

 

GBS screening 

GBS stands for Group B Streptococcus. This is a bacterium that usually inhabits the vagina and intestinal tract and does not cause problems for healthy adults. When the baby is being born, the presence of the bacteria can cause an infection sometimes quite severe. In women who test positive for GBS it is recommended that they receive antibiotics during labour to prevent infection of the newborn.

 

Genetic Tests 

Antenatal genetic testing is done in order to diagnose fetal chromosomal abnormalities such as Down syndrome where the cells have one extra chromosome.

 

Before undergoing any testing it is important to have a discussion with your clinician to understand the procedure and the risks involved, the meaning of different results and the options for management of abnormal findings.

 

A conclusive result is obtained from the Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS) and Amniocentesis where the chromosomes of actual fetal cells are analysed. The Maternal First and Second trimester screenings give a probability of the presence of the problem and the results are reported as low risk or high risk.

 

First trimester combined screenin 

The test consists of a blood test done at 10 weeks and an ultrasound done at 12 weeks. The result will show the risk of Trisomy 18 (Edwards syndrome), Trisomy 21 (Down syndrome) and neural tube defects.

 

Second trimester screening 

The test consists of a blood test done between 15 and 20 weeks. The result will also show the risk of Trisomy 18 (Edwards syndrome), Trisomy 21 (Down syndrome) and neural tube defects.

 

Chorionic villus sampling (CVS) 

Chorionic villus sampling (CVS) is a method of obtaining fetal cells by taking a small biopsy of the developing placenta. The sample is collected using a slender needle, which is inserted through the mother’s abdomen and into the placental tissue. The tissue (chorionic villi) is then sent to the laboratory for examination. This is usually done between 10 and 12 weeks before any screening tests in patients considered at a high risk for congenital abnormalities.

 

Amniocentesis 

Amniocentesis is done a little later in pregnancy, any time after 16 weeks. Fetal cells are obtained through the aspiration with a needle of a small amount of amniotic fluid. The process then in the laboratory is similar to the CVS.

 

Visit the Victorian Clinical Genetics Services (VCGS) Website