Table 1

Antenatal Tests

Type of test

Detectable conditions

Stage of

pregnancy


Invasive: mother only

MSAFP

Estimation of maternal serum

Neural tube defects; Down's

16th-18th week.

alphafetoprotein in maternal

syndrome.

blood.

Combined maternal blood

test

Estimation of MSAFP, chorionic

Down's syndrome.

16th-18th week.

gonadotropin and/or

unconjugated oestriol.

Invasive: both fetus and

mother

Amniocentesis

A test involving the insertion,

Chromosomal disorders; a

12th-14th week.

through the mother's abdomen,

number of hereditary disorders

of a fine needle into the

caused by a single gene; neural

amniotic sac and the removal of

tube disorders.

amniotic fluid.

Chorion biopsy

A test involving the introduction

Chromosomal disorders; a

8th-12th week.

through the mother's vagina or

number of hereditary disorders

abdomen of a needle into the

caused by a single gene.

womb and the removal of tissue

surrounding the fetus.

Fetoscopy

A test involving the introduction

Chromosomal disorders;

16th-18th week.

through the mother's abdomen

disorders detectable by fetal

of an instrument enabling the

blood sampling; malformations.

examiner to see the fetus.

Cordocentesis

A test involving the insertion of

Chromosomal disorders;

15th week

a needle through the mother's

disorders detectable by fetal

onwards.

abdomen (where the umbilical

blood sampling.

cord of the fetus is attached to

the placenta) and then the

removal of fetal blood.

Non-invasive

Ultrasound scan

An instrument is passed over

Fetal growth and development;

Any time but often

the mother's bare abdomen

multiple pregnancy;

about the 16th

and a picture of the fetus is

malformations, including neural

week to check

produced on a screen.

tube defects.

dates and

development.

Radiography

The mother's abdomen is X-

Skeletal abnormalities requiring

20th week

rayed. This is hardly ever done

a picture of the whole skeleton.

onwards.

today.


Aksoy BMC Medical Ethics 2001 2:3   doi:10.1186/1472-6939-2-3

Open Data