Prenatal exams, what do you need to know?

How beautiful is the experience of pregnancy, but how many unanswered questions. When we receive the news that a new member is about to come to the family, an instruction book is not given. Doubts begin to haunt the heads of the future parents, especially first-timers. An example is prenatal exams, which can scare you when you do not understand very well what they consist of.

Do these tests hurt? If they are done, is there a problem in the baby? How many must be done? These are some of the questions that many parents ask themselves when they hear about prenatal exams and therefore from the Nemours Foundation these doubts are answered to reassure the parents who present these doubts during pregnancy.


What are detected in these exams?

The first thing parents should know about prenatal exams is that they are normal in all gestation and that does not mean that there is any problem in the child. These tests are done during the first, second and third trimesters. In the case of the mother, the doctors try to identify health problems that could affect the baby, such as:

- Gestational diabetes, anemia or other health conditions

- Immunity to certain diseases

- Presence of any disease of transmission to the baby or cervical cancer

On the other hand, prenatal exams in the case of babies, these tests seek to detect the following aspects:


- Treatable health problems that can affect the baby's health

- Characteristics of the baby, such as size, sex, age and position in the uterus

- Possibility of the baby having birth defects or genetic problems

- Presence of fetal abnormalities, such as heart problems

In addition, there are cases in which it is especially recommended to perform a prenatal examination in the following pregnancies:

- Over 35 years old

- Pregnant teenagers

- Mothers who had a premature baby

- Mothers of a baby with birth defects; especially if you were born with heart or genetic problems

- Multiple pregnancies

- Mothers with high blood pressure, diabetes, lupus, heart disease, kidney problems, cancer, asthma or a seizure disorder

- Mothers with a family history of mental retardation (or have a spouse with these family characteristics)


What tests should be done?

Not all mothers should have all prenatal exams. There are routine tests that focus on trying to find possible problems. Others, however, focus on trying to follow a detected condition and see how the child evolves with respect to it. In other cases, the objective is a reliable and concrete diagnosis of a previously detected health problem.

In addition, there are tests that respond to special characteristics such as the ones mentioned above, or cases in which family history suggests that the presence of some condition is possible in the youngest children (case of congenital heart disease). The specialists recommend to trust in the doctor that is attending the gestation and never be guided by the situation of other mothers since each pregnancy is completely different.

Damián Montero

Video: Prenatal Genetic Testing with Dr. Gayatri Chhatre, OB/GYN


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