Amniocentesis is a prenatal test done during the 15-16th week of the pregnancy. Amniocentesis is a procedure where a small sample (less than one ounce) is taken from the amniotic fluid for testing. Amniotic fluid is present around the fetus and acts as a cushion protecting the fetus during the pregnancy. The volume of the fluid taken depends on the baby’s gestational age. The fluid looks like water and consists of various free-floating live fetal cells, tissues, urine along with other chemicals such as Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) released by the fetus. The sample is sent to the laboratory for further detailed analysis. These substances help in understanding the health of the fetus before birth.
The amniotic fluid is extracted through a fine and long needle from the uterus through the abdomen. The procedure is guided by an ultrasound. Amniocentesis is helpful in detecting any birth defects, condition of the lungs, infections or other complications in the fetus.