Many prenatal tests are routine. They give helpful information about the pregnant person and the baby. Blood and urine tests, and ultrasounds carry little or no risk of harm. Some tests do carry a higher risk of harm. These are used for pregnant people who have a high risk of problems during pregnancy.
A high-risk pregnancy includes:
- Being 35 years and older
- Being a teenager
- Having 2 or more babies at the same time
- A past premature birth or baby with a health problem at birth
- Health problems such as high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney problems, or systemic lupus erythematosus
- Ethnic background in which genetic problems are common—in either parent
- Family history of intellectual disability—in either parent
The doctor will talk about the risks and benefits of certain tests.
People may choose to have higher-risk prenatal tests for different reasons. Prenatal tests can help to make plans such as:
- Getting medical care for a problem if there is a treatment
- Preparing for a child with special needs
- Deciding whether to continue the pregnancy
Some people prefer not to know, and that is okay too. Testing is the parents' choice.
Birth defects and your baby. March of Dimes website. Available at: https://www.marchofdimes.org/complications/birth-defects-and-your-baby.aspx. Accessed March 24, 2022.
Chorionic villus sampling: CVS. American Pregnancy Association website. Available at: https://americanpregnancy.org/prenatal-testing/chorionic-villus-sampling. Accessed March 24, 2022.
Prenatal genetic diagnostic tests. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website. Available at: https://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Prenatal-Genetic-Diagnostic-Tests. Accessed March 24, 2022.
Prenatal genetic screening tests. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website. Available at: https://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Prenatal-Genetic-Screening-Tests. Accessed March 24, 2022.
Prenatal tests. Kids Health—Nemours Foundation website. Available at: https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/prenatal-tests.html. Accessed March 24, 2022.
Routine prenatal care. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114252/Routine-prenatal-care. Accessed March 24, 2022.
Wang, J., Tang, X.-X., et al. Prenatal diagnostic testing following high-risk result from serological screening: which shall we select? Int J Women’s Health, 2021; 13: 879-888.
- Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Mary-Beth Seymour, RN
- Review Date: 05/2019
- Update Date: 07/02/2019