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Genetic Counseling and Fetal Tests


Genetic Testing  

We screen for Trisomies, Neural Tube Defects, BRAC-A and Cystic Fibrosis.

  • Trisomies: Trisomies include Down’s Syndrome and other genetic fetal abnormalities. This is done through a simple blood test.
  • Neural Tube Defects [expand tab]: Neural Tube Defects include conditions such as Spina Bifida and Encephaloceles. These conditions develop when the fetal neural tube does not develop properly. Neural Tube Defects are identified through ultrasound examination and various alpha-fetoprotein tests.
  • BRACA: Tests for specific genes that may affect your fetus.
  • Cystic Fibrosis: Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disease affecting the lungs and digestive system. The condition causes no mental impairment but shortens average life expectancy of the affected person. This disease is screened in two parts. The first part is a blood test to establish if both parents are carriers of the relevant gene. If both parents are carriers then a further amniocentesis diagnostic test can be performed to establish whether or not the baby is affected by Cystic Fibrosis.

The Fetal Non-Stress Test

This is a simple, non-invasive test performed in pregnancies over 28 weeks gestation. The test is named “non-stress” because no stress is placed on the fetus during the test.

Information about F-NST:

  • How is a NST Performed?
    The test involves attaching one belt to the mother’s abdomen to measure fetal heart rate and another belt to measure contractions. Movement, heart rate and “reactivity” of heart rate to movement is measured for 20-30 minutes. If the baby does not move, it does not necessarily indicate that there is a problem; the baby could just be asleep. A nurse may use a small “buzzer” to wake the baby for the remainder of the test.
  • Why would a NST be performed?
    A NST may be performed if:
  1. You sense that the baby is not moving as frequently as usual
  2. You are overdue
  3. There is any reason to suspect that the placenta is not functioning adequately
  4. You are high risk for any other reason

    The test can indicate if the baby is not receiving enough oxygen because of placental or umbilical cord problems; it can also indicate other types of fetal distress.
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