Chorionic villus sampling (CVS) is a prenatal test in which a sample of chorionic villi is removed from the placenta for testing.

During pregnancy, the placenta provides oxygen and nutrients to the growing baby and removes waste products from the baby's blood. The chorionic villi are wispy projections that make up most of the placenta and share the baby's genetic makeup.

Chorionic villus sampling can reveal whether a baby has a chromosomal condition, such as Down syndrome. Chorionic villus sampling can also be used to test for other genetic conditions, such as cystic fibrosis.

Although chorionic villus sampling can provide valuable information about your baby's health, the decision to pursue invasive diagnostic testing is serious. It's important to understand the risks of chorionic villus sampling — and be prepared for the results.

Oct. 10, 2012