Fetal Health: Measuring Fetal Well-being Before Birth
Throughout your pregnancy care, your provider may order certain tests and procedures to assess fetal well-being during pregnancy.
A prenatal test that measures levels of four substances in a pregnant woman's blood to evaluate whether the pregnancy has an increased chance of being affected with certian chromosomal conditions such as Down syndrome.
An ultrasound screening test done between the 11th and 14th week of pregnancy. It measures the thickness of the fluid buildup at the back of the developing fetus' neck. If the area is thicker than normal, it can be an early indicator of increased risk of Down syndrome, Trisomy 18 and fetal heart problems.
A very important part of routine obstetrical care, a baseline ultrasound is a complete head-to-toe anatomical survey of your developing fetus, and is typically performed between the 18th and 20th week of pregnancy.
Cell-free DNA Testing
Cell-free fetal DNA is genetic material that is released by the placenta and circulates in the mother's blood during pregnancy. Cell-free DNA testing is a non-invasive prenatal screening that is highly reilable in determining some genetic disorders.
A medical procedure used in prenatal diagnosis of chromosomal abnormalities and fetal infections in which a small amount of amniotic fluid (which surrounds the fetus) is extracted with ultrasound guidance. The fetal DNA is then sent to a lab where it is examined for chromosomal abnormalities, neural tube defects and genetic disorders.
Non-stress tests are typically performed during the second and third trimesters. An electronic fetal monitor is used to obtain a tracing of the fetal heart rate for 20-40 minutes while you relax in a recliner. The fetal heart rate increases when the fetus moves and shows the doctor the fetus is doing well before birth. A non-stress test is performed for several reasons including, but not limited to:
Decreased fetal movement
Poor fetal growth
Patients who are over the age of 35
Your doctor may give you instructions to count fetal movement.