Skip to Content

SHARE

Amniocentesis

Amniocentesis is a test to study the liquid (amniotic fluid) that surrounds a baby. Amniotic fluid contains cells and other substances that can give clues about a baby's health. Amniocentesis can be done after about the 15th week of pregnancy, when there is enough amniotic fluid for testing.

Amniocentesis is done by putting a needle through the belly into the uterus. About 2 Tbsp (30 mL) of the amniotic fluid is collected and examined in a lab. The fluid sample can be examined for:

  • Genetic characteristics, such as the sex of the baby.
  • Chromosome problems, such as Down syndrome and some other birth defects.
  • Chemicals that show how mature the baby's lungs are.
  • Infection.

Levels of certain substances in the fluid sample, such as alpha-fetoprotein, can also be checked. Some abnormal levels may mean there is a problem with the development of the brain and nerves.

Amniocentesis is usually done between weeks 15 and 20 of the pregnancy for genetic testing. It can be done later, during the third trimester of pregnancy, to find out how mature the baby's lungs are.

Decision Points

Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.

You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:

Interactive Tools

Get started learning more about your health!

Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups, and pregnancy.

Symptom Checker

Feeling under the weather?

Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.