PHILIPPE PLAILLY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY PHILIPPE PLAILLY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Amniotic fluid samples. Flasks containing amniotic fluid from pregnant women are seen in rows in a laboratory. The fluid occurs in the amniotic sac that surrounds the developing foetus, and is extracted by amniocentesis. In this procedure usually performed between 16-18 weeks pregnancy, about 20-30 millilitres of fluid is removed. The fluid contains cells and chemicals from the foetus which can be analysed. Foetal disorders can then be detected, such as spina bifida or rhesus incompatability. Genetic defects in the foetus can also be screened, including Down's Syndrome, haemophilia, and cystic fibrosis.
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