Medical Advances in Pregnancy

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Pregnancy is a very natural process for many women. However, the complications we experience are often also very natural as well. Because of our genetics, stressful lives, and a variety of other factors, fetal disease and illness can develop, leaving a woman very concerned about the health and safety of her child.

In previous decades, caring for a child prenatally was often complicated and high in risk, but with new medical advances in prenatal treatment, children have a greater chance of receiving treatment to live healthy lives.

Medical Advances in Pregnancy

A few of the most beneficial medical advances affecting pregnancy include:

Refined fetal surgery

Fetal surgery used to have multiple complications. Children still in the womb who developed fetal diseases were often treated using external treatment options, such as offering the mother medications, because of the increased risks associated with prenatal exposure to the outside environment and lack of medical technology. Without the necessary treatment, children who became ill in the womb were often born with birth defects, born prematurely, or even miscarried.

New refined fetal surgeries, however, have made treating fetal disease and illness safer and more accessible. Lasers with scopes, needles guided by ultrasound, and open womb surgical techniques are now all being employed to improve the healthcare options provided prenatally. There are still risks associated with newer fetal surgeries, but these advances have made it possible to correct obstructed urinary bladders, twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome, spina bifida, and many other conditions.

Noninvasive genetic testing

Although there are numerous genetic tests available to parents, the highly invasive amniocentesis has been regularly used. This test is accurate and effective, but it also poses several risks to pregnancies. An amniotic sac provides a sterile environment for a baby to grow and develop in. When the amniotic sac is punctured by a needle (during an amniocentesis), the potential increases for outside contamination to occur. Women who have an amniocentesis may experience miscarriage or their pregnancies may experience infection. These risks caused by such an invasive procedure had deterred many women from having prenatal genetic testing, which can ultimately provide beneficial information to parents.

The development of a non-invasive prenatal test gives parents the option of knowing whether or not their child has a genetic abnormality without compromising the health of the pregnancy. Noninvasive prenatal tests test for specific chromosomal abnormalities and only need a sample of blood to do so. These tests detect specific chromosomal abnormalities called trisomies, which occur when a chromosome doesn’t replicate properly.

A trisomy is a more common chromosomal abnormality, and trisomy 21, one of the most common trisomies, is linked to Down syndrome. By having a prenatal DNA test, parents can be provided with information that can guide them to better family planning, and can give them the time needed to seek out adequate resources and support prior to their child’s birth.

Premature birth hormone therapy

Nearly 1 out of every 8 pregnancies results in premature birth. A premature birth can be defined as any birth which takes place 3 weeks prior to the due date, and is more likely to occur in pregnancies containing multiple babies or those in which mom has a health condition, smokes, drinks or uses illegal drugs, or has problems with her uterus or cervix. Children who are born prematurely may suffer from intellectual disabilities, breathing or respiratory problems, have vision or hearing loss, and have feeding or digestive problems.

The effects of a premature birth are enough for any woman to be concerned when pregnant. However, researchers have discovered that progesterone, a hormone occurring naturally in women, can actually reduce the likelihood of premature birth by up to 50 percent. Not only does progesterone decrease the likelihood of premature birth, but it also reduces the likelihood of infant mortality and other complications associated with premature birth.

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