Tests You Need During Pregnancy
Prenatal tests are important for your health and your unborn baby's health. Here's what to expect.
Between weeks 24-28, you will be screened again for diabetes
(some women develop pregnancy-related diabetes, known as gestational diabetes,
which usually clears up after the baby is born), and patients who are Rh
negative will be checked for Rh antibodies (which can be treated through a
series of injections), says Petrikovsky.
At the end of the pregnancy, between weeks 32-36, you may be
retested for syphilis and gonorrhea, as well as for group B strep (GBS), a type
of bacterium that can cause meningitis or blood infections in newborn infants;
if you test positive for GBS, you will be given antibiotics during labor and
delivery to minimize the risk of transmitting the bacterium to your infant.
Though these are all routine tests, there may be other prenatal
tests that your obstetrician will recommend, depending on your racial or ethnic
background or family medical history, says Vivian Weinblatt, MS, CGC, regional
manager of genetic services for Genzyme Genetics in Philadelphia and former
president of the National Society of Genetic Counselors.
Certain populations, for example, are at risk for certain
diseases, Weinblatt explains. Ashkenazic Jews (those of Eastern European
descent) as well as French Canadians and Cajuns are at high risk for Tay-Sachs,
a debilitating neurological disease that usually results in a child's early
death. Since the increased use of screening tests to determine whether
parents-to-be are carriers of Tay-Sachs became more prevalent in the 1970s, the
incidence of the disease has dropped dramatically, says Weinblatt.
Weinblatt says other illnesses that are specific to the Jewish
population and can be screened with a blood test or tissue sample are Canavan
disease; mucolipidosis type 4; Niemann-Pick disease type A; Fanconi anemia type
C; Bloom syndrome; familial dysautonomia; and Gaucher disease.
Africans, African Americans, Southern Europeans, and Asians are
at higher risk for blood-related illnesses such as sickle cell anemia and
thalassemia, says Weinblatt.
If you have a family history of illnesses such as muscular
dystrophy, hemophilia, or cystic fibrosis, you may also want to consult a
genetic counselor, Weinblatt advises. "A genetic counselor can't treat you
or your unborn child, but he or she can let you know how your risk factors can
affect your pregnancy.