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Fetal Problems

For the majority of women their health and the health of their baby will raise no concerns during pregnancy but there are some indicators or warning signs that may need further tests.

Alpha-fetoprotein screening (AFP) uses a blood test to look for possible birth defects, a high level of protein may be linked to spina bifida or it could indicate a multiple pregnancy. If the level is low, the fetus may have chromosomal abnormalities, such as Down syndrome, but these tests are only indicators and further tests will need to be carried out.

Amniocentesis (also called an amnio) is usually only performed if your risk factors are higher than usual for certain fetal problems, these may include being over 35 years of age, having a family history of certain birth defects or an abnormal AFP screening or Multiple Marker screening. A similar and slightly quicker test is Chorionic villus sampling (CVS), your obstetrician will advise you if any of these tests are recommended.

More general tests will be offered to all pregnant women including Ultrasound scanning, this will examine the growth rate of your unborn baby, its heartbeat and breathing and lung development. Some fetal problems can be identified and occasionally extra preparations will be made for the delivery. If there are any concerns following your Ultrasound scanning you will receive the correct advice and can be reassured that care and monitoring of your pregnancy will be increased.

Rh-negative mother/Rh-positive fetus (or Rh incompatibility): Some women are Rh negative, this will be determined via a blood test – most of us are Rh positive. If you are negative and your unborn baby is positive then there can be problems with your body producing antibodies that can destroy red blood cells. This is a serious but manageable condition and regular healthcare checks will identify and supervise the condition.

Fetal alcohol syndrome unfortunately affects a small percentage of babies born every year. These babies suffer from developmental problems throughout their life, it is extremely damaging to your unborn child to drink alcohol when pregnant. Some medical experts say that a couple of glasses of wine each week will have no effect upon the fetus but others are adamant that all alcohol should be avoided. Common sense should tell us that the effects will probably be different in every mother and child, but it would seem to be a wise decision to follow the most cautious advice. If you know you have a problem with avoiding alcohol talk to your medical team, they may be able to help you.

You will probably have been given a chart to record fetal movement, this can be a critical indicator of normal and abnormal movement patterns from your baby, most unborn babies have an active period at least once a day, some seem to sleep and rest for much of the time but you will be aware of significant changes and if the movements become infrequent then your baby could be in some distress. Medical advice should be sought immediately.

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Disclaimer - The data contained in the is provided for the information purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice and shall not create a physician - patient relationship. We are not responsible for any consequence resulted from using the information from this web site. Please always consult your physician for medical advices and treatment.