Amniocentesis is used to determine the health of an unborn baby. Amniotic fluid contains cells that are normally shed from the fetus. Samples of these cells are obtained by withdrawing some amniotic fluid. The chromosome analysis of these cells can be performed to determine abnormalities. In addition, the cells may be cultured and analyzed for enzymes, or for other materials that may indicate genetically transmitted diseases. Other studies can be done directly on the amniotic fluid including measurement of alpha-fetoprotein.
Review Date 7/13/2021
Updated by: John D. Jacobson, MD, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Loma Linda University School of Medicine, Loma Linda, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.