Amniocentesis carries various risks, including:

  • Miscarriage. Second-trimester amniocentesis carries a slight risk of miscarriage — between 1 in 300 and 1 in 500. Research suggests that the risk of miscarriage is higher for amniocentesis done before 15 weeks of pregnancy.
  • Needle injury. During amniocentesis the baby might move an arm or leg into the path of the needle. Serious needle injuries are rare.
  • Leaking amniotic fluid. Rarely, amniotic fluid leaks through the vagina after amniocentesis. If the leak seals, the pregnancy is likely to proceed normally. It's possible, however, for chronic leakage to lead to orthopedic problems for the baby.
  • Rh sensitization. Rarely, amniocentesis might cause the baby's blood cells to enter the mother's bloodstream. If you have Rh negative blood, you'll be given a drug called Rh immunoglobulin after amniocentesis to prevent you from producing antibodies against your baby's blood cells.
  • Infection. Rarely, amniocentesis might trigger a uterine infection.
  • Infection transmission. If you have an infection — such as hepatitis C, toxoplasmosis or human immunodeficiency virus — the infection might be transferred to your baby during amniocentesis.

Remember, genetic amniocentesis is typically offered when the test results might have a significant impact on management of the pregnancy. Ultimately, the decision to have genetic amniocentesis is up to you. Your health care provider or genetic counselor can help you weigh all the factors in the decision.

Maturity amniocentesis is often suggested when early delivery would be best for the mother. With minimal risks, maturity amniocentesis can offer assurance that the baby is ready for birth.

Oct. 10, 2012