Pregnancy is a time of great anticipation. Will you have a girl or a boy? Will the baby inherit your sense of humor or your partner's compassion? You may have moments of doubt and anxiety as well. Will you experience complications? Will the baby be healthy?
Take comfort in the fact that most babies are born healthy. Still, you may want details about your baby's health beyond what your health care provider can observe.
Types of prenatal testing
Prenatal testing includes both screening tests and diagnostic tests:
- Screening tests. Prenatal screening tests — such as blood tests and ultrasounds — are routine in most pregnancies. Screening tests can identify whether your baby is more likely to have certain conditions, but they can't make a definitive diagnosis. Screening tests pose few or no risks for you or your baby.
- Diagnostic tests. If a screening test indicates a possible problem — or your age or family history puts you at increased risk of having a baby with a genetic problem — your physician will talk with you about newer non-invasive prenatal testing that is available. You may also consider a more invasive prenatal diagnostic test, such as chorionic villus sampling or amniocentesis. These tests do carry a small risk of miscarriage.