Mercy's Dr. Robert Atlas, OB/GYN, Discusses "Understanding Prenatal Tests" On WBAL-TV11's "Woman's Doctor"
Dr. Robert Atlas, OB/GYN, Chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Mercy Medical Center
Keeping babies healthy is a main priority for expectant mothers, and prenatal tests are very important during that process.
According to Mercy’s Dr. Robert Atlas, OB/GYN, prenatal tests are necessary to assess any risks and let doctors know what they need to follow during the pregnancy, and it starts at the very beginning.
"We do a blood count to look for anemia. If you're African-American, we want to look for whether or not you have the sickle cell trait or not. We want to look for your blood type, whether you're positive or negative. If you're negative, we need to give you some medication during the pregnancy, especially if you have bleeding," Dr. Atlas said.
"We like to see if you're immune to rubella or not. We like to get the HIV and hepatitis tests to see if there's anything that we need to do surrounding medications or medications to give the baby after delivery," he continued.
There are other tests that are given throughout pregnancy, such as alpha-fetoprotein -- known as an AFP – as well as a first-trimester screening to look for chromosome abnormalities and a glucose screening to check for gestational diabetes.
"Women have autonomy to choose what it is that they want done, but we sort of go over each test and why we're doing what we're doing, and then their religious background, their morals and their ethics will depend on what it is that they want," he said.
Christina Thanner is pregnant with her second child and, like other expectant moms, she's already had her share of prenatal tests.
"I've had a whole slew of blood tests. I've had an NT, which is nuchal translucency, where they test the spinal fluid to make sure the baby doesn't have Down syndrome or anything like that," she said. "I've had ultrasounds, 3D ultrasounds, as well as the regular ultrasounds."
"I think peace of mind is just a lot better. It makes you feel a lot better just to go in to have somebody say, 'Hey, you're good, and your baby's fine.' I like that," Thanner said.
Prenatal tests are changing for the better. Several tests that used to be invasive are now non-invasive, such as screening for chromosome abnormalities. That's now often done with a blood test.
Founded in 1874 in downtown Baltimore by the Sisters of Mercy, Mercy Medical Center is a 183-licensed bed acute care university-affiliated teaching hospital. Mercy has been recognized as a top Maryland hospital by U.S. News & World Report; a Top 100 hospital for Women’s Health & Orthopedics by Healthgrades; is currently A-rated for Hospital Safety (Leapfrog Group), and is recognized by the American Nurses Credentialing Center as a Magnet Hospital. Mercy Medical Center is part of Mercy Health Services (MHS), the parent of Mercy’s primary care and specialty care physician enterprise, known as Mercy Personal Physicians, which employs more than 200 providers with locations in Baltimore, Lutherville, Overlea, Glen Burnie, Columbia and Reisterstown. For more information about Mercy, visit www.mdmercy.com, MDMercyMedia on Facebook, Twitter, or call 1-800-MD-Mercy.