Amniocentesis is a way of finding out how a baby is developing before birth it shows whether the baby has a genetic disorder.

All pregnant women in the UK are offered a blood test for Downs Syndrome and other genetic conditions such as Spina Bifida, if you are expecting twins the blood test does not work so a detailed scan is used instead. You are normally told very early on in pregnancy about amniocentesis, normally at your booking in appointment with the midwife. For a women aged 35, the risk of the procedure causing a miscarriage is about the same as the risk of the baby having Downs Syndrome.

An amniocentesis is not without risk it can cause miscarriage in about 1% of women. Which means that about 1 woman in 100 will miscarry because of a direct result of having had an amniocentesis.

Why should it be done?

Amniocentesis is used to detect serious or potentially serious disorders in an unborn child, allowing the parent’s time to except a disability or to decide to terminate the pregnancy.

Amniocentesis can also offer the opportunity for early treatment of a disorder while the baby remains in the womb

All pregnant women can have an amniocentesis, but there are some groups of women that are offered it as a routine procedure:

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