Pregnancy is a major step in life, and many a time you might hear terms that are totally unfamiliar. One of these is Amniocentesis. Performed between the 16th but before the 20th week of pregnancy, this procedure helps detect chromosomal disorders in the foetus. KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH) give a more in-depth explanation.

Amniocentesis is a procedure where an obstetrician withdraws a small amount of the amniotic fluid (about 20cc) surrounding the foetus.

This is done by inserting a thin hollow needle through the mother's abdomen into the uterus.

The obstetrician will use ultrasound to guide the needle during the procedure so as not to harm the unborn child.

The procedure is performed on an outpatient basis and takes only a few minutes.

The needle will cause some pain when it penetrates the uterus, but the pain should not last long and should not hurt more than an injection into any other part of the body.

After the fluid has been withdrawn, the removal of the needle should cause no further discomfort. The fluid is then sent to the laboratory for special tests.

Why is amniocentesis necessary?

The majority of amniocentesis is done for the detection of chromosomal disorders.

Chromosomes carry genes that pass certain characteristics from parents to their children. When there are too many or too few chromosomes, or there is defect in a chromosome, birth defects usually occur.

Down Syndrome is the most common chromosomal disorder. It causes mental retardation and other health problems such as heart defects. Other less common chromosomal disorders may lead to serious handicaps and death.​

When is Amniocentesis done? When will the results be ready? Can all birth defects be detected?

Click here to find out the answers to all that, and more.

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