Amniocentesis is a test done on a baby while it is still inside the woman’s body. It shows whether the baby will have a genetic disorder like sickle cell anemia or a chromosomal abnormality such as Down syndrome. Some other syndromes that amniocentesis detects are trisonomy 13, Turner syndrome, spina bifida and anencephaly. Amniocentesis may also show whether the baby’s lungs are good enough for an early delivery in case of needed premature labor. It is very similar to a procedure called Chronionic Villa Sampling.

The woman must first receive ultrasound to see the baby’s basic body structure. Using ultrasound guidance, the doctor inserts a needle through the abdominal wall into the sac which is holding the baby. The amniotic fluid is taken using the needle and then is sent to the lab for analyzing. The whole procedure only takes roughly around half an hour. After the procedure, the woman may have cramps and pressure around the stomach. This procedure usually is done between sixteen to twenty weeks of pregnancy.

The results come within two weeks. If the baby has a defect, genetic counseling is offered and some woman may terminate their pregnancy. One in every three hundred patients who have undergone amniocentesis will have a miscarriage. It is unknown, however, if the miscarriage occurs due to this procedure because most of these woman would have had a miscarriage anyway. This procedure is done at clinics specifically made for genetic testing.