Prenatal Screening includes a series of blood tests that are an important part of your healthcare during pregnancy. The initial workup will provide you with a great deal of information about what to expect in the first stage of your pregnancy. First and foremost a Blood Pregnancy Test is used to measure levels of HCG allowing you to monitor the progress of your pregnancy, providing you with the best estimate of the number of weeks since conception. Normal levels of Beta HCG, a hormone produced by the fetus, can indicate that your baby is developing correctly.
First Trimester Prenatal Tests - Your Initial Blood Workup
Blood Type and Rh Factor
: test will identify your blood type (A, B, AB or O) and whether you are Rh negative or Rh positive (problems may develop if mother and baby have different Rh factors.)
Complete Blood Count
: test will identify if you have an iron deficiency. If your iron levels are low you may be anemic or susceptible to anemia; you may want to consider an iron supplement or eating more iron-rich foods.
Hemoglobin: test will measure your blood levels of hemoglobin, a protein that delivers oxygen through your red blood cells. Low levels also indicate anemia or susceptibility to anemia.
The Complete Blood Count also measures your platelets and white blood cells, which when elevate may indicate an infection.
: test used to measure your ability to metabolize sugar and an potential indicator of gestational diabetes.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases
: tests used to determine whether you have HIV
: test to determine if you are a carrier of this liver disease. A women with Hepatitis B may have no symptoms and can transmit the disease to the baby during childbirth.
Rubella: test to determine if you have antibodies for rubella (german measles), indicating immunity to the disease. Contracting rubella during pregnancy can cause serious complications such as miscarriage, stillbirth, or birth defects.
: test to determine if you have toxoplasmosis, an infection harmless to adults but a major risk to your baby.
Second Trimester Prenatal Blood Tests
Second trimester blood tests provide information about a the risk of having a baby with or birth defects or certain genetic conditions. Screening is recommended during the 15th to 20th weeks of pregnancy.
: test measures the mother's blood level of this protein produced by the liver of the fetus. Abnormal levels of AFP may indicate the presence of twins, a change in due date, or certain developmental defects.
Estriol: tests for this hormone produced by the placenta and used as a measure of the baby's health and well being.
: tests for this hormone produced by the adrenal cortex of the fetus that is converted to estriol.
Additional blood tests may be needed to monitor potential complications such as genetic diseases, infections or anemia that may develop during your pregnancy.
Are There Risks and Side effects of Blood Tests for the Mother or Baby?
Prenatal blood tests pose no risks to you or your baby. These tests are a routine and important part of your prenatal care. Please visit WebMd
for more information on prenatal testing.