Did an Amniocentesis Harm Your Baby?
When pregnant women undergo an amniocentesis procedure, there is a risk that their babies might be injured. Doctors might recommend an amniocentesis when there is a risk that the fetuses may have genetic abnormalities. Understanding the risks involved with undergoing an amniocentesis enables parents to make informed choices.
What Is an Amniocentesis?
The fluid surrounding the fetus inside the amniotic sac of the uterus contains cellular and genetic material that can reveal important information to medical professionals and parents. The doctor may recommend an amniocentesis when there is a risk that a developing fetus might have genetic abnormalities. During this procedure, a doctor inserts a needle through the uterine wall and into the amniotic sac to withdraw fluid. The physician is guided by ultrasound imaging. The extracted fluid is tested to detect any abnormalities that might exist.
Benefits of Having an Amniocentesis
An obstetrician may recommend an amniocentesis when there is a risk that the fetus may have a serious health issue. Undergoing an amniocentesis can allow parents to learn whether their fetuses have genetic disorders so that they can talk about their options. Learning that a child has a genetic disorder might also help parents plan where to have the baby. For example, the parents of a fetus with a serious health condition may want to have the baby in a hospital equipped with a neonatal intensive care unit.
Risks of an Amniocentesis
Amniocentesis carries several risks. Some women may miscarry after undergoing an amniocentesis. When the procedure is completed before the fetus reaches 15 weeks of gestation, the baby may be born with a clubbed foot. An infection may be introduced to the amniotic fluid and the fetus by the needle during the procedure. The fetus may be injured if the doctor accidentally pokes it with the needle. This should not happen when doctors use ultrasound to guide them. Some women might bleed during the amniocentesis, which could cause their blood to mix with the fetus’s blood. If the woman is Rh-negative, and the fetus is RH-positive, this could cause Rh sensitization. Finally, there may be a tear in the placenta.
While rare, birth injuries can be caused by amniocentesis. It’s important for parents to carefully consider the benefits and risks before they agree to undergo this procedure.