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Prenatal Blood Work

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You may be offered some optional tests to test for toxoplasmosis (an infection spread through cat feces), HIV, and hepatitis C. By testing for these early in pregnancy, your doctor or midwife can get the jump on any potential problems from the very beginning of your pregnancy.

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Depending on your ethnic background and medical history, you may also be tested for three other conditions:

  • Sickle cell anemia is an inherited chronic anemia caused by abnormally shaped red blood cells. Sickle cell anemia is common to populations of African descent. When carefully monitored, women with sickle cell anemia can give birth to healthy babies.

  • Tay-Sachs disease is a genetic disorder carried by an estimated one in 30 Eastern European Jews; babies born with Tay-Sachs lack an essential enzyme which is needed to break down certain lipids, resulting in death early in childhood.

  • Thalassemia is an inherited disorder of hemoglobin in red blood cells, characterized by anemia and found in individuals of Mediterranean, African-American or Southeast Asian ancestry.

Later in your pregnancy around weeks 16 to 18, your doctor or midwife will offer several other screening blood tests, such as the triple screen test, which looks for signs of any birth defects, and the glucose tolerance test, which monitors your blood sugar level and checks for gestational diabetes.

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