Learn how prenatal testing checks on the health of you and your baby during pregnancy. Some tests are routine, and some are for women at high risk.
Prenatal testing provides information about your baby’s health before he or she is born. Some routine tests during pregnancy also check on your health. At your first prenatal visit, your health care provider will test for a number of things, including problems with your blood, signs of infections, and whether you are immune to rubella (German measles) and chickenpox.
Throughout your pregnancy, your health care provider may suggest a number of other tests, too. Some tests are suggested for all women, such as screenings for gestational diabetes, Down syndrome, and HIV. Other tests might be offered based on your
- Personal or family medical history
- Ethnic background
- Results of routine tests
There are two types of tests:
- Screening tests are tests that are done to see if you or your baby might have certain problems. They evaluate risk, but do not diagnose problems. If your screening test result is abnormal, it does not mean that there is a problem. It means that more information is needed. Your health care provider can explain what the test results mean and possible next steps. You may need diagnostic testing.
- Diagnostic tests show whether or not you or your baby have a certain problem.
It is your choice whether or not to get the prenatal tests. You and your health care provider can discuss the risks and benefits of the tests, and what kind of information the tests can give you. Then you can decide which ones are right for you.
Dept. of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health