Posts Tagged ‘prenatal tests’

What you need to know about group B strep and pregnancy

Thursday, July 26th, 2018


During your last trimester of pregnancy, you get a test for group B strep (also called GBS). GBS is a common type of bacteria that can cause infection. Usually, GBS is not serious for adults, but it can hurt newborns. It’s important to get this test and know the results so you can protect your baby.

Many people carry GBS — in fact about 1 in 4 (25 percent) pregnant women are carriers. Being a carrier does not mean you have an infection, it means you have this bacteria in your body. GBS bacteria naturally live in the intestines and the urinary and genital tracts. You can’t get it from food, water or things you touch. You can’t catch it from another person, and you can’t get it from having sex. GBS in adults usually doesn’t have any symptoms. But sometimes it can cause minor infections, like a bladder or urinary tract infection (UTI).

If you’re pregnant and have a GBS infection, it can pass to your baby during labor and birth and can make your baby very sick.

Testing and treatment for GBS

You prenatal care provider tests you for GBS at 35 to 37 weeks of pregnancy. The test is a simple swab of your vagina and rectum. If you have GBS, your provider gives you antibiotics during labor and birth to help prevent your baby from getting infected.  Your provider gives you the antibiotics through an IV.

Penicillin is the best antibiotic for most women. If you’re allergic to penicillin, you can get a different medicine. It’s not helpful to your baby if you get treatment for GBS early in your pregnancy. The bacteria can return quickly, so you could have it again by the time you go into labor.

If you have GBS, remind your providers at the hospital when you go to have your baby. This way you can be treated quickly. Treatment works best when it begins at least 4 hours before childbirth. If you have GBS and you’re having a scheduled c-section before labor starts and before your water breaks, you probably don’t need antibiotics.

What are the chances you can pass GBS to your baby?

If you have GBS during childbirth and it’s not treated, there’s a 1 to 2 in 100 chance (1 to 2 percent) that your baby will get the infection. The chances are higher if you have any of these risk factors:

  • Your baby is premature. This means your baby is born before 37 weeks of pregnancy.
  • Your water breaks (also called ruptured membranes) 18 hours or more before you have your baby.
  • You have a fever (100.4 F or higher) during labor.
  • You’ve already had a baby with a GBS infection.
  • You had a UTI during your pregnancy that was caused by GBS.

If you have GBS and you’re treated during labor and birth, your treatment helps protect your baby from the infection.

Visit marchofdimes.org for more information.

 

Signs and symptoms of preeclampsia

Tuesday, May 8th, 2018

Preeclampsia is a blood pressure condition that only occurs in pregnancy and during the postpartum period. Women who have preeclampsia develop high blood pressure and may also have signs that some of her organs, like her kidneys and liver, may not be working normally.

Preeclampsia is a serious health problem for pregnant women around the world. It affects 2 to 8 percent of pregnancies worldwide. In the United States, it’s the cause of 15 percent of premature births. Premature birth is birth that happens before 37 weeks of pregnancy. Most women with preeclampsia have healthy babies. But if it’s not treated, it can cause severe health problems for you and your baby.

For most women, preeclampsia happens after 20 weeks of pregnancy. When it happens during the postpartum period, it is usually within 48 hours of having a baby. However, it can develop up to 6 weeks after birth.

One of the best ways to detect preeclampsia is to go to all your prenatal care checkups, even if you’re feeling fine. Preeclampsia sometimes develops without any signs. This means you may have preeclampsia and not know it. During your prenatal care checkups your health care provider will measure your blood pressure and test your urine for protein. In the case of preeclampsia, there’s usually a presence of protein in the urine. 

Signs and symptoms of preeclampsia include:

  • Changes in vision, like blurriness, flashing lights, seeing spots or being sensitive to light
  • Headache that doesn’t go away
  • Nausea (feeling sick to your stomach), vomiting or dizziness
  • Pain in the upper right belly area or in the shoulder
  • Sudden weight gain (2 to 5 pounds in a week)
  • Swelling in the legs, hands or face
  • Trouble breathing

Many of these signs and symptoms are common discomforts of pregnancy. If you have even one sign or symptom, call your provider right away. Without treatment, preeclampsia can cause serious health problems for you and your baby, even death.

If you’re at risk for preeclampsia, your provider may want you to take low-dose aspirin to help prevent it. Talk to your provider to see if treatment with low-dose aspirin is right for you. Visit marchofdimes.org for more information about how to have a healthy pregnancy and baby.

Is it a boy or a girl?

Friday, August 26th, 2016

its-a-girl-storkFinding out the sex of your baby is such an exciting part of pregnancy. While some people choose to be surprised at the time of delivery, many couples want to know the sex of the baby before they give birth. its-a-boy-stork

XX or XY

Your baby’s sex is determined at the moment of conception.  Of the 46 chromosomes that make up your baby’s genetic material, two chromosomes–one from the egg and one from the sperm–determine your baby’s gender.  A woman’s egg contains only X sex chromosomes.  A man’s sperm, however, may contain either an X or Y sex chromosome.  If, at the instant of fertilization, a sperm with an X sex chromosome meets the egg (another X chromosome), your baby will be a girl (XX).  If a sperm containing a Y sex chromosome meets the egg, your baby will be a boy (XY).  It is always the father’s genetic contribution that determines the sex of the baby.

How can I find out the sex of my baby?

Most women find out their baby’s sex during a routine ultrasound in the second trimester—usually between 18-20 weeks.  Traditional ultrasound is approximately 93% to 100% accurate at detecting the baby’s sex. But, just remember that sometimes the sex is not clearly identifiable from an ultrasound. This is usually due to the position of the baby.

While ultrasound is accurate, if you want to be absolutely certain of your baby’s sex, you would need a diagnostic test, such as a CVS (done between 10-12 weeks of pregnancy) or amniocentesis (done between 15-20 weeks of pregnancy). It is important to keep in mind that these prenatal tests are invasive and are done primarily to diagnose certain genetic conditions, such as Down syndrome.

Another way you may find out if you are having a boy or a girl is through cell-free fetal DNA testing (also called noninvasive prenatal testing or NIPT). NIPT tests your blood for your baby’s DNA to see if he may have certain genetic conditions, like Down syndrome. While this test is not used specifically to determine the baby’s sex, it can provide that information. It can be done after 10 weeks of pregnancy.

Did you find out if you were having a boy or a girl? Did you reveal it in a special way? Let us know—we’d love to hear your stories!

Have questions? Email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Screening vs. diagnostic testing—what’s the difference?

Friday, June 26th, 2015

DoctorPregnant_zps3ac96800If you are pregnant, you know that every visit to your prenatal care provider involves a number of tests. At each prenatal checkup, your provider checks your weight, blood and urine. But in addition to these routine tests, you will also be offered prenatal tests that can assess your risk to have a baby with certain birth defects.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that all pregnant women, regardless of age, be offered prenatal testing for Down syndrome and some other birth defects. There are two different types of tests that you can have: a screening test or a diagnostic test. It’s important to understand the difference between a screening test and a diagnostic test. Screening tests help evaluate the risk for certain birth defects, but they cannot diagnose a birth defect. Screening tests pose no risk to mother or baby. Diagnostic tests are highly accurate at diagnosing or ruling out specific birth defects. However, these tests may pose a very small risk of miscarriage.

Screening tests offered during pregnancy include:

  • Cell-free fetal DNA testing (also called noninvasive prenatal screening or testing): Some of your baby’s cells can be found in your blood. This test uses a sample of your blood to look at your baby’s DNA to check for certain genetic conditions. You can have this test after 10 weeks of pregnancy. This test is not recommended for women who aren’t likely to have a baby with a birth defect or who are pregnant with multiples.
  • First-trimester screening: Using a blood sample and ultrasound measurements, first-trimester screening can tell you if your baby is at risk for some birth defects, like Down syndrome. It is usually done between 11 to 13 weeks of pregnancy.
  • Maternal blood screening: This test measures four substances in your blood to determine the chance that a woman has a baby with certain birth defects like Down syndrome and neural tube defects. The test is done between 15 to 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Diagnostic tests are done by obtaining samples of your baby’s actual cells and therefore are more invasive. Diagnostic testing can detect most birth defects caused by a change in the number or shape of chromosomes. And testing for many inherited disorders can be done as well. However, not all birth defects can be detected.

Some women may choose to have diagnostic testing done instead of screening tests based on their age or family history. Other women may choose to start with a screening test and then, depending on the results, decide whether to have a diagnostic test. Prenatal diagnostic tests do carry a small risk of miscarriage (about 1 in 300-500).

  • Chorionic villus sampling (also called CVS): During this procedure, the doctor removes a small sample of tissue from the placenta. This can either be done transvaginally or transabdominally. You can get CVS at 10 to 12 weeks of pregnancy.
  • Amniocentesis (also called amnio): Your health care provider will use a needle to remove a small amount of amniotic fluid. Amnio is done between 15 to20 weeks of pregnancy.

Remember, all of these tests are optional. Make sure that you discuss your questions and concerns with your health care provider.

 

Group B strep infection

Friday, July 18th, 2014

Between 35-37 weeks of your pregnancy your prenatal care provider will test you for Group B strep. Group B streptococcus (also called Group B strep or GBS) is a common type of bacteria that can cause infection.

Many people carry Group B strep—in fact about 25% of pregnant women are carriers.  GBS bacteria naturally live in the intestines and the urinary and genital tracts. It is not known how GBS is transmitted in adults but you can’t get it from food, water, or things you touch. An adult can’t catch it from another person or from having sex, either.  Most people do not even know they are carriers since adults usually show no signs or symptoms related to GBS.

GBS, however, can be passed to your newborn during labor and delivery and it can make your baby very sick. Babies with a GBS infection may have one or more of these illnesses:

• Meningitis, an infection of the fluid and lining around the brain

• Pneumonia, a lung infection

• Sepsis, a blood infection

According to the CDC, in the US, group B strep is the leading cause of meningitis and sepsis in a newborn’s first week of life.

There are two kinds of GBS infections:

1. Early-onset GBS: Signs like fever, trouble breathing and drowsiness start during the first 7 days of life, usually on the first day. Early-onset GBS can cause pneumonia, sepsis or meningitis. About half of all GBS infections in newborns are early-onset.

2. Late-onset GBS: Signs like coughing or congestion, trouble eating, fever, drowsiness or seizures usually start when your baby is between 7 days and 3 months old. Late-onset GBS can cause sepsis or meningitis.

The good news is that early-onset GBS infection in newborns can be prevented by a simple test. During your third trimester, your provider will take a swab of the vagina and rectum. Results are available in a day or so. This test will need to be done in each pregnancy.

If you do have GBS, then your provider will give you an antibiotic through an IV (medicine given through a tube directly into your bloodstream) during labor and delivery. Usually this is penicillin (if you are allergic to penicillin, there are other options available). Any pregnant woman who had a baby with group B strep disease in the past, or who has had a bladder (urinary tract) infection during this pregnancy caused by group B strep should also receive antibiotics during labor.

Unfortunately late-onset GBS cannot be prevented with IV antibiotics. Late-onset GBS may be due to the mother passing the bacteria to her newborn, but it may also come from another source, which is often unknown.

Treatment for babies infected with either early-onset GBS or late-onset GBS is antibiotics through an IV.

Currently researchers are testing vaccines that will help to prevent GBS infections in both mothers and their babies.

If you have any questions about this topic or other pregnancy and newborn health issues, please email the Pregnancy and Newborn Health Education Center at askus@marchofdimes.org.