Q What Is DNA testing?
A Until very recently, if a mom-to-be wanted to have her unborn baby tested for genetic abnormalities, the options would be invasive tests such as amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling.
Amniocentesis involves putting a needle into the sac surrounding the baby to obtain fluid that contains the fetal cells, and chorionic villus sampling involves taking a biopsy of the pregnancy through either the abdomen or the cervix of the mother-to-be.
Both tests carry a small chance of causing a miscarriage. The tissue obtained from the pregnancy can then allow doctors to have access to the fetal tissue to test for genetic abnormalities.
Recently, scientists have found that there is a small amount of fetal genetic material that crosses the placenta naturally and can then be found floating in the expectant mother’s bloodstream. This allows fetal material to be obtained through a simple blood test from the mother-to-be. The difficult part of this type of testing is separating the fetus’s DNA from the expectant mother’s own genetic material. Currently, this type of non-invasive testing can be used to determine the fetal gender.
These tests are now widely available and are marketed directly to consumers, though the accuracy of these unregulated tests cannot be assured. Additionally, their wide use raises ethical concerns, since the medical reason to use them is to detect genetic disorders that are linked to the sex of the fetus.
Screening for genetic disorders with this technique is still being studied. Until further trials are performed, genetic testing of the fetus via a maternal blood test is not available other than through research studies. It is, however, an area of great promise in medical research.
Q Can I give birth naturally with twins?
A When twins are both head down (vertex position), they may be delivered vaginally. However, if either of the babies is in a bottom-down (breech) or transverse position, then your ob/gyn or midwife will need to discuss with you if having a C-section may be the safer option for you and your babies.
Q I am 12 weeks’ along and experiencing the acne I never had as a teen. What can I do?
A The effects of pregnancy on acne are unpredictable. Some women notice improvement in their acne, while others see it worsening, and still others may develop acne for the first time.
Topical benzoyl peroxide, which works to unclog pores, can treat acne such as blackheads and whiteheads safely. Topical antibiotics, which require a prescription, work on acne that has an infection associated with it. You should avoid tetracycline (topical or oral) in pregnancy, due to the potential risks to fetal teeth and bone development. The use of topical tretinoin (known as Retin-A, Atralin, Renova, Avita, Altinac) has not been associated with any birth defects, but because oral exposure has been — and because significant skin absorption is theoretically possible — you should avoid it.
For more information on well-being, your pregnancy and your baby, visit www.youandyourfamily.com.
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