Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
In this Article
- Amniocentesis facts
- What is amniocentesis?
- Who is a candidate for amniocentesis?
- What does amniocentesis show?
- When should amniocentesis be performed?
- Is amniocentesis safe?
- Find a local Obstetrician-Gynecologist in your town
Who is a candidate for amniocentesis?
Women over the age of 35 have an increased chance of carrying a baby with chromosomal abnormalities. Therefore, the current recommendation is that women who will be age 35 or older at the time of delivery be offered an amniocentesis for fetal chromosome testing. Chromosomal abnormalities in the fetus can lead to intellectual disabilities or other birth defects as seen with Down's syndrome. The possibility of having a baby with a chromosomal defect increases with the age of the mother.
- At age 35, the chance is about 1 in 178.
- By age 40, the rate increases to 1 in 63.
- By age 48, the ratio is 1 in 8.
- For women younger than 35, the risk of complications as a result of amniocentesis outweighs the possibility that the baby has a chromosomal abnormality (see below, "Is Amniocentesis Safe?").
- After 35, the chance of carrying a baby with a chromosomal abnormality may be more common than experiencing the complications associated with this procedure.
If there is a family history of chromosomal problems or history of prior births in which a chromosomal problem was found, amniocentesis may be recommended. However, the exact benefit of amniocentesis in these situations is uncertain. Many chromosomal defects may not reappear in subsequent pregnancies, and genetic counseling can help a woman decide whether amniocentesis would be of value in these situations.
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