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Testing for Prenatal Birth Defects

Prenatal care consists of a series of visits that focus on improving the health status of the mother and fetus. Most prenatal care in the United States is initiated by 10 weeks gestation. In the United States, the majority of maternity care is provided by obstetrician-gynecologists, with family medicine physicians and midwives each providing less than 10%. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has published guidelines for prenatal care in the United States. National organizations in other countries have established guidelines that utilize an approach based on available resources and maternal populations.

Prenatal care seeks to identify women at risk for pregnancy complications or fetal abnormalities. ACOG guidelines for screening and diagnostic testing emphasize pretest counseling that discusses the risks and benefits in detail. ...

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