Prenatal Tests: Types, Procedures, and Their Importance


Prenatal tests are medical tests that are conducted during pregnancy to assess the health of the mother and the developing fetus. These tests are important for identifying potential complications early on, so that appropriate interventions can be taken to ensure the best possible outcome for both the mother and the baby. In this article, we will discuss the types and procedures of prenatal tests, as well as their importance in ensuring a healthy pregnancy.

Types of Prenatal Tests

There are several types of prenatal tests that can be conducted during pregnancy, depending on the specific needs of the mother and the baby. These tests can be classified into two main categories: screening tests and diagnostic tests.

Screening Tests

Screening tests are non-invasive tests that are conducted to assess the risk of a particular condition in the developing fetus. These tests are typically done during the first or second trimester of pregnancy, and they do not pose any risk to the mother or the baby. Screening tests can be further classified into two types:

  1. Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing (NIPT)

NIPT is a blood test that is conducted to screen for chromosomal abnormalities in the fetus, such as Down syndrome, Edwards syndrome, and Patau syndrome. The test analyzes the fetal DNA that is present in the mother’s blood and can be done as early as 10 weeks into pregnancy. NIPT is highly accurate and has a low false positive rate.

  1. Maternal Serum Screening

Maternal serum screening is a blood test that is conducted to screen for neural tube defects and chromosomal abnormalities in the fetus. The test measures the levels of certain hormones and proteins in the mother’s blood and can be done between 10 and 14 weeks of pregnancy. The test has a higher false positive rate than NIPT, and a positive result does not necessarily mean that the fetus has a chromosomal abnormality.

Diagnostic Tests

Diagnostic tests are invasive tests that are conducted to confirm the presence of a particular condition in the developing fetus. These tests carry a small risk of miscarriage, and they are typically done after a positive result on a screening test. Diagnostic tests can be further classified into two types:

  1. Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS)

CVS is a procedure that involves the removal of a small sample of tissue from the placenta for testing. The procedure is typically done between 11 and 14 weeks of pregnancy, and it can detect chromosomal abnormalities and other genetic conditions. CVS carries a small risk of miscarriage, but it is more accurate than maternal serum screening.

  1. Amniocentesis

Amniocentesis is a procedure that involves the removal of a small amount of amniotic fluid from the uterus for testing. The procedure is typically done between 15 and 20 weeks of pregnancy, and it can detect chromosomal abnormalities and other genetic conditions. Amniocentesis carries a slightly higher risk of miscarriage than CVS, but it is more accurate.

Procedures of Prenatal Tests

The procedures of prenatal tests vary depending on the type of test being conducted. Non-invasive tests such as NIPT and maternal serum screening only require a blood sample from the mother, while invasive tests such as CVS and amniocentesis require a small sample of tissue or fluid from the developing fetus.

NIPT involves a simple blood draw from the mother’s arm, and the sample is sent to a laboratory for analysis. The results are typically available within 1 to 2 weeks.

Maternal serum screening also involves a blood draw from the mother’s arm, and the sample is sent to a laboratory for analysis. The results are typically available within a few days.


Subscribe to our Newsletter

Subscribe to receive the weekly Newsletters from our website. Don’t worry, we won’t spam you.