Antenatal Diagnostic Procedures

Prenatal diagnosis employs a variety of techniques to determine the health and condition of an unborn fetus. Without knowledge gained by prenatal diagnosis, there could be an untoward outcome for the fetus or the mother or both. Congenital anomalies account for 20 to 25% of perinatal deaths. Specifically, prenatal diagnosis is helpful for:

  • Managing the remaining weeks of the pregnancy
  • Determining the outcome of the pregnancy
  • Planning for possible complications with the birth process
  • Planning for problems that may occur in the newborn infant
  • Deciding whether to continue the pregnancy
  • Finding conditions that may affect future pregnancies

There are a variety of non-invasive and invasive techniques available for prenatal diagnosis. Each of them can be applied only during specific time periods during the pregnancy for greatest utility. The techniques employed for prenatal diagnosis include:

  • Ultrasonography
  • Amniocentesis
  • Chorionic villus sampling
  • Fetal blood cells in maternal blood
  • Maternal serum alpha-fetoprotein
  • Maternal serum beta-HCG
  • Maternal serum estriol