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Amniocentesis is only offered to pregnant women who have a higher chance of having a baby with a genetic or chromosomal condition. It can diagnose a range of conditions.
If your test results, or medical or family history suggest you have a higher chance of having a baby with a genetic or chromosomal condition, you may be offered amniocentesis.
You don't have to take the test – it's up to you to decide whether you want it.
Amniocentesis can be used to diagnose a number of conditions, including:
If you're offered amniocentesis, ask your doctor or midwife what the procedure involves, and what the risks and benefits are before deciding whether to have it.
You may also find it helpful to contact a support group, such as Antenatal Results and Choices (ARC), a charity that offers information, advice and support on all issues related to screening during pregnancy.
It will usually be able to tell you whether your baby will be born with any of the conditions tested for.
If no problem is found, it may be reassuring, while a result showing that a condition was detected will give you plenty of time to decide how you want to proceed with your pregnancy. Read about the results of amniocentesis for more information.
There's a 0.5-1% chance you could have a miscarriage after the procedure. You may feel this outweighs the potential benefits of the test. Read more about the risks of amniocentesis.
Some women decide they would rather find out when their baby is born.