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Maternal and Fetal Testing Overview

Most women have healthy pregnancies, and their babies are born without difficulties. But women with high-risk pregnancies often need to be closely watched for potential problems. Fortunately, many tests and procedures are available to monitor the health of both mother and baby. Many of these pose little or no risk. They also can provide a lot of information to healthcare provider, midwives, and expectant parents. But some types of testing and procedures do carry some risks to mother, baby, or both. For this reason, if you are offered prenatal testing, it's important to ask your provider or midwife these questions:

  • Why is the test needed for my pregnancy?

  • What information will the test give?

  • What are the benefits of the test?

  • What are the risks, if any, to me and to my baby?

  • What other tests might be used instead?

  • Who will do the test?

  • Where will it be done?

  • How long does it take to get results?

  • Will the test results require more testing?

  • What are my options based on the outcome of the test?

  • What are my options if I choose to not have the test?

Some mothers are more likely to need a closer watch on their pregnancy. Some health problems that may need maternal and fetal testing are:

  • Pre-existing maternal diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, kidney disease, and heart disease

  • Abnormal amounts of amniotic fluid

  • Abnormal fetal growth

  • Multiple pregnancy (twins or more)

  • Post-term pregnancy

  • Very young or older than 35 years old

  • Obesity

Online Medical Reviewer: Freeborn, Donna, PhD, CNM, FNP
Online Medical Reviewer: Sacks, Daniel, MD, FACOG
Date Last Reviewed: 6/1/2018
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