Cambridge Encyclopedia » Cambridge Encyclopedia Vol. 5

amniocentesis - Risks, Procedure

fetus fluid reveal amniotic

A diagnostic procedure performed at 14–18 weeks gestation which involves withdrawal of a small sample of amniotic fluid from within the uterus using a needle inserted through the abdominal wall under ultrasound guidance. Amniotic fluid is in close contact with the fetus, and contains cells that can be analysed to reveal many congenital fetal abnormalities. These include Down's syndrome and spina bifida. The procedure can also reveal the sex of the fetus and other normal features of development. It carries a small risk of inducing an abortion.

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