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Investigations during pregnancy

There are various blood and urine tests done during pregnancy.

Beta HCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin) is a sensitive test to detect pregnancy.

It can detect pregnancy as early as 10 days after fertilization. Upon conception woman's body starts produces pregnancy hormones called the human chorionic Gonadotropin, commonly referred to as HCG. HCG production begins approximately 8-10 days after conception when the embryo starts implanting to the uterine wall. As the embryo grows the level of HcG rises and generally doubles every 2 to 3 days. The dramatic decrease indicates miscarriage. It is usually done with early morning urine sample. A positive indicates that the individual is pregnant. It can also be detected in the blood.

Blood tests during pregnancy

The common blood tests done during pregnancy are

  • Hemoglobin level: To see if there is any anemia this is characterized by tiredness, weakness. It causes preterm delivery, post partum hemorrhage
  • VDRL test to detect syphilis.
  • HIV testing.
  • Hepatitis B testing.
  • Blood grouping and typing.
  • Blood sugar level.
  • Rubella testing.
  • Glucose tolerance test.
  • Iron levels.

Urine testing

To detect bacteria in the urine. Almost 10% of pregnant women have bacteria in their urine, which indicates urinary tract infection. Most do not have symptoms, but the infection can spread upwards to the kidneys and can produce risk for the mother and the baby. It is treated with antibiotics.

Sugar in urine: It is sign of diabetes.

Protein in urine: It indicates urinary tract infection. In later pregnancy it may be due to pre-eclampsia (condition causing high blood pressure).

Ultrasound scan

Abdominal or vaginal ultrasounds are carried out two to three times during pregnancy to check for general parameters for growth and development.

Other tests that may be required in special conditions, particularly during high risk pregnancies. these include:

  • Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP).
  • Chorionic villus sampling (CVS).
  • Amniocentesis.
  • Blood tests for Torch infection to detect toxoplasmosis, German measles, cytomegalovirus, herpes simplex virus.
  • Screening for Down’s syndrome.

Genetic screening

Many genetic abnormalities can be diagnosed before birth. Genetic screening is performed if you or your partner has a family history of genetic disorder and/or you have had a fetus or baby with a genetic abnormality.

Examples of genetic disorders that can be diagnosed before birth include the following.

  • Cystic fibrosis.
  • Duchene’s muscular dystrophy.
  • Hemophilia A.
  • Thalassemia.
  • Sickle cell anemia.
  • Poly cystic kidney disease.
  • Tay-Sachs disease.

Genetic screening methods include

  • Ultrasound scan.
  • Alpha-fetoprotein test (AFP) or multiple marker tests.
  • Chorionic villus sampling (CVS).
  • Amniocentesis.
  • Percutaneous umbilical cord sampling (withdrawing a small sample of the fetal blood from the umbilical cord).


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