Amniocentesis is a procedure performed during pregnancy to examine a baby's chromosomes. Most often, an amniocentesis is done between 16-20 weeks of pregnancy.

During this procedure, amniotic fluid, which contains cells that the baby has naturally shed, is removed for testing. Cells amniocentesis imageand proteins within the amniotic fluid are then examined in the lab to test for specific fetal disorders. Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) is also found in the amniotic fluid and can be measured in the laboratory. The entire amniocentesis appointment lasts approximately 45 minutes— most of which involves a detailed ultrasound examination.

Amniocentesis is generally offered for:

  • Women who will be 35 years of age or older at the time of delivery
  • Couples with a child or other family member with a chromosomal abnormality
  • Women with a positive screening test result (for example, an expanded AFP test)
  • Couples in which one partner has a chromosomal rearrangement (for example, a translocation or an inversion)
  • Couples with an increased risk of having a child with a genetic disease for which testing is available
  • Couples with a previous pregnancy or child with a neural tube defect (for example, spina bifida or anencephaly)

To learn more about amniocentesis and determine if you would benefit from this test, please speak with your obstetrician or contact our office directly.