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Your Pregnancy After 35 : Tests for You and Your Baby (part 1) - At-Home Tests

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1. At-Home Tests

Home Pregnancy Tests

Your healthcare provider may ask you to take a home pregnancy test when you miss a period to help determine if you’re pregnant. These tests are so accurate that your healthcare provider may rely on them as an initial screening for pregnancy. Sometimes a woman misses a period because of stress, excessive physical exertion or dieting, not pregnancy. If the test is positive, make your first prenatal appointment.

Home pregnancy kits were first introduced in 1976; in 1999 the average price was between $15 and $20. Tests in 2012 average between $6 to $10. Some even cost as little as $1—and they’re accurate. A study compared pregnancy tests from dollar stores with tests used in doctors’ offices and clinics. It found the dollar-store tests were as sensitive as more expensive tests.

Tests detect the presence of human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), a hormone of early pregnancy. Pregnancy tests can show positive results even before you miss a menstrual period. Most tests are positive 7 to 10 days after you conceive! However, most healthcare providers recommend you wait until you miss your period before taking a test to save you money and emotional energy.

Some at-home pregnancy tests can pick up lower levels of HCG than others. Some are more sensitive. For women who want to test early, these products may be good choices.

The best time to take a home pregnancy test is the first day after your missed period or any time thereafter. If you take the test too early, you may get a result that says you aren’t pregnant when you really are! This happens for about 50% of the women who take the test very early.

Gender-Prediction Test Kits

You may have seen gender tests advertised that use your blood or a urine sample to determine baby’s sex. They are often offered on the Internet. But experts agree tests available may not offer accurate results.

One over-the-counter test claims it can predict your baby’s sex as early as 10 weeks of pregnancy. Called the IntelliGender’s Gender Prediction Test, it uses a urine test to provide immediate results that indicate baby’s gender based on a color match. Green indicates boy, and orange indicates girl. However, before you rush off to buy the test, you should realize test results are actually only about 80% accurate. They only indicate the possibility of determining whether baby is a girl or a boy.

To do the test, you use your first morning urine. You need to avoid sexual relations for at least 48 hours before taking the test, and you can’t be taking any hormones, such as progesterone.

The Pink or Blue test is another at-home test developed to determine baby’s gender by examining DNA of the mom-to-be. Research has shown fetal DNA can be found in a mother’s bloodstream. A woman sends a small sample of her blood to the lab, and results of the test (boy or girl) are sent to the parents-to-be. The makers of the product claim the test is 95% accurate and can predict a baby’s sex as early as 6 weeks after conception (8 weeks of pregnancy).

2. Tests You May Have

Tests at Your First Prenatal Visit

Your healthcare provider will probably order a battery of tests during your first or second visit. These may include the following:

a complete blood count (CBC) to check iron stores and to check for infections

urinalysis and urine culture

a test for syphilis

cervical cultures, as indicated

rubella titers, for immunity against rubella

blood type

Rh-factor

a test for hepatitis-B antibodies

alpha-fetoprotein

Pap smear

The results of these tests give your healthcare provider information he or she needs to provide the best care for you. For example, if testing shows you have never had rubella (German measles) and you never received the rubella vaccine, you know you need to avoid exposure during this pregnancy and to receive the vaccine before your next pregnancy.

Later in pregnancy, your healthcare provider may repeat some tests or order new tests. For example, 28 weeks of pregnancy is the best time to pick up blood-sugar problems.

Some medical authorities are concerned some couples may consider ending a pregnancy because of baby’s sex based on the result of these tests. If you have questions or concerns, discuss them with your healthcare provider.

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