13 prenatal screening tests to know

Screening tests provide valuable info on your baby's health, such as whether he has certain birth defects. We have details.

Pregnancy is a time of highs and lows ― you’re excited because you can’t wait to meet your baby, but at the same time, you worry because you hope bubba will be born healthy.

Indeed, the median age of women in Singapore giving birth for the first time is age 30+. It’s also a fact that babies of late-in-life mothers — mothers above the age of 35 — may face an increased risk of chromosomal conditions like Down syndrome.

Dr Dharshini Gopalakrishnakone, an obstetrician and gynaecologist specialist at the Obstetrics & Gynaecology Centre Novena, says, “It is important to undergo prenatal tests as these tell us, with varying sensitivity, the likelihood of having a child with [health conditions]. Having this knowledge gives the parents options on how to manage the pregnancy as well as the baby after delivery.”

Incidentally, an all-clear in terms of screening results doesn’t mean you and baby are off the hook either. Dr Dharshini adds that these tests do not cover other genetic, structural or neurological conditions that may only be discovered later in the pregnancy or after birth.

Babies of late-in-life mothers — mothers above the age of 35 — may face an increased risk of chromosomal conditions like Down syndrome.

Not all the tests listed are compulsory, however, SmartParents ob-gyn expert Dr Christopher Chong, notes that if cost isn’t a concern, it’s best to go for the most accurate prenatal tests. Do ask your doctor about:

First Trimester

WHEN Between 10 and 13 weeks.
WHAT Commonly referred to as CVS testing, your doc will extract chorionic villi samples from the placenta through your cervix or abdominal wall. Chorionic villi cells hold the genetic makeup of your growing baby.
WHY Tests will detect if your baby suffers from any genetic defects such as Down syndrome.
RISKS Dr Chong warns that the procedure does carry a 1 to 4 per cent risk of miscarriage. This risk can increase if the baby is smaller in size than usual for his age.

WHEN Between 11 and 13 weeks.
WHAT Your first ultrasound scan. Your sonographer may advise you to come with a full bladder so that they can obtain a clearer image.
WHY It’ll detect your stage of pregnancy based on the foetus’ physical development, so as to determine your child’s estimated date of delivery. You’ll also know if the foetus is growing in the right place or position, as well as be alerted if you are expecting more than one baby.

Read on to find out what prenatal tests to do during your second trimester…