Important tests in pregnancy

Important tests in pregnancy

Pregnancy is celebrated and protected as well. With advanced science, newer tests and screenings aid us to make this journey safe and transparent. Let us look a bit deeper important screening and diagnostic tests to be done in first trimester of pregnancy. These important tests in pregnancy help to diagnose and treat deficiencies in mother, possibility of future abnormalities in baby etc.

1.  CBC (complete blood count)

·        Haemoglobin

The first important factor in CBC is haemoglobin which carries oxygen to the foetus via blood. During pregnancy blood volume increases by 30% hence woman is advised to take more iron to make more Hb. Low levels of haemoglobin mean the mother is anaemic and she will suffer from fatigue and sickness. Mother must
nourish both growing foetus and her own body, so the tendency of low haemoglobin levels is common in most pregnant women. Generally, 10-14 gms is normal range during pregnancy and if the levels are low, iron supplements and proper diet is suggested.

·        White blood cells

Next important factor in CBC is white blood cells which are important for immune system and keeps both mother and child away from any type of infection. It helps to rule out the blood disorders like sickle cell anaemia or leukaemia. 

·        Platelets

Platelets are responsible for clotting of blood. If the count is too low, blood will not clot soon and if the count is high then mother is susceptible to sudden internal clots. 

2.  Dual marker test

Dual marker test or Down syndrome screening is done to screen the possibility of potential abnormality in the baby. Know more in detail about Dual marker test.

Ø  Down syndrome is the chromosomal abnormality which cannot be treated, and the child suffers from mental retardation along with few physical disabilities.

Ø  The most common form of Down syndrome is Trisomy 21 in which an individual has 47 chromosomes in each cell instead of 46.

Ø  This is caused by an error in cell division which leaves an egg or sperm cell with an extra copy of chromosome 21 during conception.

Ø  Advancing maternal age has high chances of Down syndrome as the older eggs have greater risk of improper chromosome division.

Ø  Mostly the pregnant women above 25 years of age should get this test done.

Ø  Along with blood test, mothers age, and USG parameters specifically NT i.e.Nuchal translucency (thickness of skin at the neck of baby) are considered.

Ø  In this test blood sample is taken to measure the levels of free Beta HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) and PAPP-A (pregnancy associated plasma protein) both are the hormones produced by placenta.

Ø  High levels of HCG and low levels of PAPP-A can be associated with Down syndrome along with the combining USG parameters.

Ø  Results are represented as screen positive, high risk or screen negative.

Ø  This test should be done in between 11-14 weeks and if missed due to any reason then can be done in between 16-22 weeks.

Ø  This Dual marker test helps to detect 3 conditions and those are Trisomy 21 i.e. Down syndrome, Trisomy 18 i.e. Edward syndrome and Trisomy 13 i.e. Patau syndrome.

Ø  If the Dual marker test is positive, further diagnostic test called amniocentesis is advised at 16 weeks to confirm the diagnosis.

3.  USG (ultrasonography)

Ø  In this scan sound waves of higher frequency are used which reflect through tissues creating real time visual images of growing foetus as well as reproductive organs of mother.

Ø This test has no side effect and is safe and harmless during pregnancy. Other scans like X-ray, MRI, CT scan are strictly not advisable in pregnancy specially in first trimester.

Ø First trimester scan helps to know the following things

·   Pregnancy confirmation (USG is the 100% evidence).

·   Gestational age of foetus.

·   Number of foetuss – one or two or three.

·   Location of foetus whether the embryo is inside or outside the uterus.

·   Rules out the swellings like cyst or fibroids. 

4.  Blood Glucose test

Changes in carbohydrate metabolism occur during pregnancy to ensure the continuous supply of nutrients to growing foetus. These changes are progressive and may develop gestational diabetes. Hence Glucose test is mandatory in each trimester, where 75 gms of glucose is given to patient and the blood is checked after 2 hours. Glucose level within 140 mg/dl is normal.

5.  Vit D

Deficiency of Vit D may cause weakened bones and abnormal growth in newborns as foetus is entirely dependent on maternal stores. Lower levels of vit D have been associated with pre-eclampsia i.e. high blood pressure, low glucose metabolism i.e. gestational diabetes, preterm birth, and bacterial vaginosis i.e. infection to vagina.

6.  Urine test

·         This is done to assess the bladder or kidney functions, diabetes, dehydration, and pre-eclampsia.

·         Protein found in urine indicates infection.

·         High glucose level indicates diabetes.

·         Bacteria found in urine indicates urinary tract infection.

·         High ketone indicates you may be dehydrated or not getting enough to eat.

7.  Thyroid test

TSH levels are very essential to be in normal range for proper development of baby.

8.  HBsAg

HBsAg i.e. Australia antigen is done to detect Hepatitis B. Many women may be asymptomatic and unknowingly pass it to the baby. If the result is positive, baby can be protected by giving Hepatitis B immune globulin within 12 hours of birth to baby.

9.  Blood group

This helps if any emergency comes during pregnancy or delivery for blood transfusion.

Prevention is better than cure. Keep in touch with Doctor and go for all these tests in first trimester to avoid further complications. 

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