Key Points

  • Amniocentesis is a procedure in which a small amount of the amniotic fluid surrounding the baby in the womb is removed by passing a fine needle through the mother’s abdomen.
  • One of the main reasons amniocentesis is used is to detect whether or not a baby has a chromosomal disorder, such as Down syndrome.
  • The safest time to have amniocentesis is after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
  • About 1 in every 100 women (or 1%) who have amniocentesis from 15 weeks of pregnancy under ultrasound guidance miscarry as a result of the procedure.
  • Amniocentesis is usually offered to women who have an increased chance of having a baby with a disorder. It is not usually offered on a routine basis.
  • If a disorder is diagnosed, then you should be given information and the opportunity to discuss this with a specialist.
  • With an experienced specialist, the risk of blood stained amniotic fluid is less than 1% (that is, less than 1 in 100 tests).
  • You will be asked to sign a consent form before having amniocentesis.