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Amniocentesis facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts

Amniocentesis (also referred to as an amniotic fluid test) is a medical procedure used primarily in prenatal diagnosis of chromosomal abnormalities and fetal infections, as well as for sex determination.

In this procedure, a small amount of amniotic fluid, which contains fetal tissues, is sampled from the amniotic sac surrounding a developing fetus. The fetal DNA is then examined for genetic abnormalities.

The most common reason to have an "amnio" performed is to determine whether a fetus has certain genetic disorders or a chromosomal abnormality, such as Down syndrome. Amniocentesis (or another procedure, called chorionic villus sampling (CVS) can diagnose these problems in the womb.

These prenatal examinations can prove helpful to expectant guardians as they allow for evaluating the fetal health status and the possibility of treatment. An amniocentesis is performed when a woman is between 14 and 16 weeks gestation (pregnant). This procedure is typically performed in the outpatient setting by a team of providers.

Women who choose to have this test are primarily those at increased risk for genetic and chromosomal problems, in part because the test is invasive and carries a small risk of miscarriage. This process can be used for prenatal sex discernment (determining the sex of the fetus) and because of this the procedure has legal restrictions in some countries.

Stem cells

Stem cell treatments
Stem cell treatments

Amniotic fluid can be a rich source of multipotent mesenchymal, hematopoietic, neural, epithelial, and endothelial stem cells.

Artificial heart valves, working tracheas, as well as muscle, fat, bone, heart, neural and liver cells have all been engineered through use of amniotic stem cells. Tissues obtained from amniotic cell lines show promise for patients suffering from congenital diseases/malformations of the heart, liver, lungs, kidneys, and cerebral tissue.

The first amniotic stem cells bank in the US is active in Boston, Massachusetts.

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