Prenatal diagnosis

What is prenatal diagnosis?

Special examinations during pregnancy show the development of your child. In the process, you can detect or exclude possible illnesses or malformations in your baby early. In addition to medical check-ups in the mother-child health passport, there are other examinations that you usually have to pay for.

However, some hospitals offer these examinations free of charge. Your doctor will be available for further questions or a personal consultation.

Prenatal diagnostic examinations often serve to calm the parents. In some cases, the expectant mother or the expectant parents face some important questions. For example, you need to decide whether further examinations, which are also associated with a risk, shall be carried out in the event of a conspicuous result.

Did you know that around 97 out of 100 children are born healthy and without a disability? However, before you decide to go ahead with an examination, you must consider the following: What will you do if your baby has a severe illness or disability? In the event of a severe disability, a termination of pregnancy in Austria is also permitted after the 3rd month of pregnancy. If you are unsure, allow yourself to be informed by your doctor about the prenatal diagnostic examinations or turn to one of the counselling centres.

Prenatal diagnosis – where?

If you would like to register for prenatal diagnosis, please contact the appropriate department of the following public hospitals:

Your doctor will be available for further questions or a personal consultation.

What type of examinations are there?

After around the 12th to 14 week of gestation, your child is already very far developed. With an exact ultrasound examination, your doctor can discover or exclude larger abnormalities and malformations.

First trimester examinations

Nuchal fold measurement (11th to 14th week of gestation)

At an ultrasound examination, your doctor measures the thickness of your baby’s nuchal fold. This gives on indication of a chromosomal defect, for example, Down syndrome. The thicker the nuchal fold, the greater the probability of a malformation or chromosomal defect. But even in the event of a noticeable nuchal fold, the child can be completely healthy.

Combined test (11th to 14th week of gestation)

In this test, a nuchal fold test as well as an additional hormonal analysis is carried out. To do so, blood will be drawn from you. This test is also used to estimate how high the risk of Down syndrome and other malformations is.

Both first trimester examinations are safe for both you and your child because the doctor does not have to perform invasive procedures on the woman’s body.

If these examinations result in suspicious results, further examinations could clarify whether there is a chromosomal defect. However, for this purpose the doctor will have to carry out a procedure in the amniotic cavity. These examinations are called chorionic villus sampling and amniocentesis. They provide an exact indication of genetic changes but also entail a small risk: Out of 200 women that are examined, 1 to 2 women experience a miscarriage.

Chorionic villus sampling (11th to 14th week of gestation)

For a chorionic villus sampling the doctor obtains tissue from the placenta. This takes place with a thin needle through the abdominal wall of the mother. A few days after the examination, you will find out whether your child has a chromosomal defect or not. If a chromosomal defect is present, the examination will show which defect it is.

Amniocentesis or amniotic puncture (16th to 20th week of gestation)

For this examination, the doctor obtains amniotic fluid from the amniotic sac. This takes place with a thin needle through the abdominal wall and the amniotic sac.

Second trimester of the pregnancy

Organ screening (20th to 24th week of gestation)

At a so-called organ ultrasound, the unborn child is thoroughly examined with an ultrasound. In doing so, the doctor can see all the organs and their essential functions like on a picture. Particularly important are the brain, face, spinal column, heart, gastrointestinal tract, kidneys, arms and legs.