During pregnancy, your visits to the clinic are going to become more frequent as well as more lengthy. All the tests you’re undergoing have one basic purpose and that is to test the development of your little one inside you and ensure that everything is going smoothly. In case an abnormality is found, it could be cured the faster it’s detected. So try your best not to miss any of these tests and appointments with your doctor, as every test is administered to check a different aspect of development.
In the first trimester, you’ll be required to have an ultrasound as well as two maternal blood tests. These tests together are used to diagnose defects such as Down Syndrome in babies.
Ultrasound for Nuchal Translucency (NT)
This is a normal ultrasound used to test the fluid at the back of the neck of the fetus, to measure if the fluid is thickening or if the volume of the fluid has increased.
Pregnancy-associated plasma protein scanning (PAPP-A) and Human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG)
Both these blood tests check for the level of proteins created in the placenta during the earlier stages of pregnancy. A higher level could indicate chromosome abnormality in the fetus.
Tests in the second trimester are called Multiple Markers and they are usually to test if your baby will be born with a birth defect. Keep in mind that these are not diagnostic tests and hence are not completely accurate.
Alpha-fetoprotein Scanning (AF)
The protein AF is produced in the liver of the fetus and can be found in the amniotic fluid. It can also pass through the placenta and be found in the mother’s blood. This test helps to scan for Down Syndrome, twins, checking the accuracy of the due date and other chromosomal abnormalities.
In this kind of test, the amniotic fluid is extracted from the womb and tested for birth defects and chromosomal disorders. Based on family genetic history, it can also be used to diagnose other hereditary defects.
Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS)
This performs the same function as amniocentesis, except that the sample is taken from some placental tissue as it is the same in the mother and the child.
This isn’t a test but rather just a method to check the heart rate of the fetus to ensure it is normal. The rhythm and heart rate are tested to see if the conditions within the womb are favourable and if they’re getting enough oxygen and nutrients.