Amniocentesis

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

View Stages of Pregnancy Slideshow Pictures

Quick GuideFetal Development Pictures Slideshow: Month by Month

Fetal Development Pictures Slideshow: Month by Month

Who is a candidate for amniocentesis?

Women over the age of 35 have an increased chance of having a baby with chromosomal abnormalities. Therefore, the current recommendation is that women who will be age 35 or older at the time of delivery be offered a genetic amniocentesis for the testing of fetal chromosomes. Chromosomal abnormalities in the fetus can lead to intellectual disabilities or other birth defects, as seen with Down's syndrome. The possibility of having a baby with a chromosomal defect increases with the age of the mother.

  • At age 35, the chance is about 1 in 178.
  • By age 40, the rate increases to 1 in 63.
  • By age 48, the ratio is 1 in 8.
  • For women younger than 35, the risk of complications as a result of amniocentesis outweighs the possibility that the baby has a chromosomal abnormality (see below, "Is Amniocentesis Safe?").
  • After 35, the chance of delivering a baby with a chromosomal abnormality may be more common than experiencing the complications associated with this procedure.

If there is a family history of chromosomal problems or history of prior births in which a chromosomal defect was identified, amniocentesis may be recommended. However, the exact benefit of amniocentesis in these situations is uncertain. Many chromosomal defects may not reappear in subsequent pregnancies, and genetic counseling can help a woman decide whether amniocentesis would be of value in these situations.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/8/2016

Subscribe to MedicineNet's Pregnancy & Newborns Newsletter

By clicking Submit, I agree to the MedicineNet's Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of MedicineNet's subscriptions at any time.

VIEW PATIENT COMMENTS
  • Amniocentesis - Experience

    Please describe your experience with amniocentesis.

    Post

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors