What Are Prenatal Tests? Prenatal tests are screening or diagnostic tests that can help identify health problems that could affect pregnant women or their unborn babies. Some of these conditions can be treated, so it's important to find them as soon as possible. Why Are Prenatal Tests Done? Prenatal tests are given in the first, second, and third trimesters. In a mother, they can determine key things about her health that can affect her baby's health, such as: her blood type whether she has gestational diabetes, anemia, or other health conditions her immunity to some diseases whether she has a sexually transmitted disease (STD) or cervical cancer In a developing child, prenatal tests can: identify treatable health problems that can affect the baby show characteristics of the baby, including size, sex, age, and position in the uterus help determine whether a baby might have a birth defect, genetic problem, or other condition Some prenatal tests are screening tests that can only reveal the possibility of a problem. Other prenatal tests are diagnostic tests that can accurately find whether a fetus has a specific problem. A screening test sometimes is followed by a diagnostic test. Although your health care provider (who may be your OB-GYN, family doctor, or a certified nurse-midwife) may recommend these tests, it's up to you to decide whether to have them. Who Should Have Prenatal Tests? Some prenatal tests are considered routine — that is, almost all pregnant women receiving prenatal care get them. They include things like checking urine (pee) levels for protein, sugar, or signs of infection. Other non-routine tests are recommended only for some women, especially those with high-risk pregnancies. These may include women who: are age 35 or older are teens have had a premature baby have had a baby with a birth defect (especially heart or genetic problems) are carrying more than one baby have high blood pressure, diabetes, lupus, heart disease, kidney problems, cancer, an STD, asthma, or a seizure disorder have an ethnic background in which genetic disorders are common (or a partner who does) What Else Should I Know? Remember that tests are offered to you — it's your choice whether to have them. To decide which tests are right for you, talk with your health care provider about why a test is recommended, its risks and benefits, and what the results can — and can't — tell you. Questions to ask: How accurate is this test? What does it measure? What do you hope to learn from the test results? Is the procedure painful? Could it be dangerous to me or the baby? Do the potential benefits outweigh the risks? When will I get the results? What are my options if the results indicate a problem? What could happen if I don't have this test? How much will the test cost? Is the test covered by insurance? How should I prepare for the test? Back to Articles Related Articles Pregnancy & Newborn Center Advice and information for expectant and new parents. Read More Pregnancy Precautions: FAQs Moms-to-be have a lot of questions about what's safe during pregnancy. 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Read More Birth Plans The reality of labor and birth may seem extremely far off - but now's the time to start planning for your baby by creating a birth plan that details your wishes. Read More Genetic Testing Advances in genetic testing help doctors diagnose and treat certain illnesses. The type of test done depends on which condition a doctor checks for. Read More Staying Healthy During Pregnancy During your pregnancy, you'll probably get advice from everyone. But staying healthy depends on you - read about the many ways to keep you and your baby as healthy as possible. Read More Having a Healthy Pregnancy Whether you feel confused, worried, scared, or excited, you'll want to know how your life will change, what you can do to have a healthy baby. Read More I'm Pregnant. How Can I Avoid Having My Baby Early? Find out what the experts have to say. Read More Note: All information is for educational purposes only. 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