During pregnancy, a fetus is surrounded by amniotic fluid, a water-like substance. Amniotic fluid helps protect a baby and also contains live fetal skin cells that are normally shed during growth.

Amniocentesis is used to identify certain types of birth defects, such as Down syndrome, sickle cell disease, cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy, Tay-Sachs and neural tube defects.

How it Works
During amniocentesis, a sample of fluid is removed from the amniotic sac for analysis. The fluid can then be sent for evaluation of fetal lung maturity, genetic evaluation, evidence of spina bifida or other neural-tube defects, the presence of infection, or chromosome analysis.

Data obtained from amniotic fluid can help women make informed decisions regarding their pregnancies and babies. For most patients, amniocentesis is a fairly quick procedure. Albany Med’s Maternal-Fetal Medicine specialists have performed thousands of these procedures, and work closely with patients to determine whether an amniocentesis should be considered.