BSIP VEM / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY BSIP VEM / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Amniocentesis. Artwork illustrating an amniocentesis test on a pregnant woman. In this procedure a small amount of amniotic fluid is withdrawn from the amniotic sac, the membranous bag that surrounds the foetus in the uterus. This is done in order to detect foetal abnormalities such as Down's syndrome or genetic disorders such as haemophilia and cystic fibrosis. The test is usually performed between the 16th and 18th week of gestation and anaesthesia is not usually required. Because of the risks associated with this test, amniocentesis is only recommended for women over the age of 35 or when there is a family history of a chromosomal abnormality.
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