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Prenatal Testing

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Summary

Prenatal testing provides information about your baby's health before he or she is born. Some routine tests during pregnancy also check on your health. At your first prenatal visit, your health care provider will test for a number of things, including problems with your blood, signs of infections, and whether you are immune to rubella (German measles) and chickenpox.

Throughout your pregnancy, your health care provider may suggest a number of other tests, too. Some tests are suggested for all women, such as screenings for gestational diabetes, Down syndrome, and HIV. Other tests might be offered based on your

  • Age
  • Personal or family health history
  • Ethnic background
  • Results of routine tests

There are two types of tests:

  • Screening tests are tests that are done to see if you or your baby might have certain problems. They evaluate risk, but do not diagnose problems. If your screening test result is abnormal, it does not mean that there is a problem. It means that more information is needed. Your health care provider can explain what the test results mean and possible next steps. You may need diagnostic testing.
  • Diagnostic tests show whether or not you or your baby have a certain problem.

It is your choice whether or not to get the prenatal tests. You and your health care provider can discuss the risks and benefits of the tests, and what kind of information the tests can give you. Then you can decide which ones are right for you.

Dept. of Health and Human Services Office on Women's Health

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  • (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) - PDF Also in
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development) Also in

Related Issues

  • (American Association for Clinical Chemistry)
  • (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)

Specifics

  • Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) Test From the National Institutes of Health (National Library of Medicine) Also in Spanish
  • (March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation) Also in
  • (American Association for Clinical Chemistry)
  • (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)
  • Blood Glucose Test From the National Institutes of Health (National Library of Medicine) Also in Spanish
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  • (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in
  • (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) Also in
  • (American Heart Association)
  • (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in
  • (American Association for Clinical Chemistry)
  • Glucose in Urine Test From the National Institutes of Health (National Library of Medicine) Also in Spanish
  • (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) - PDF
  • (American College of Radiology, Radiological Society of North America) Also in
  • (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)
  • (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists)
  • (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists)
  • Infographic (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) - PDF
  • (American College of Nurse-Midwives) - PDF
  • Red Blood Cell Antibody Screen From the National Institutes of Health (National Library of Medicine) Also in Spanish
  • (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in
  • (American Association for Clinical Chemistry)
  • (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) - PDF Also in

Striking laughter

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health)

Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)

Find an Expert

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