Dear patient,
Dear mum-to-be,

A pregnancy is an exciting and hopeful time filled with many joyful moments and intense experiences. The following information is intended as a guide and includes practical tips and interesting explanations as well as information about the course of your prenatal care in our surgery. Should you have any further questions regarding the information presented here or have questions regarding any other tests, please do not hesitate to contact me or the surgery team.


PRENATAL DIAGNOSIS Munich

PRENATAL DIAGNOSIS


Prenatal diagnosis refers to prenatal screening and prenatal diagnostic testing. The term covers all tests and examinations that specifically focus on detecting developmental defects, chromosomal abnormalities and hereditary disorders in the unborn child. Here, a clear distinction is drawn between non-invasive screening procedures and invasive examination procedures.

NON-INVASIVE PROCEDURES:

First trimester screening – weeks 12-24 (maternal blood test + nuchal translucency screening)


Between the 12th and 14th week of pregnancy, the risk of a chromosomal abnormality can be assessed through a combined screening test that includes a blood test and a special ultrasound scan.

The blood test checks for levels of two substances which are only formed during pregnancy (free β-hCG and PAPP-A) in the mother's blood. This is combined with a measurement of the thickness of the skin fold behind the nape of the baby's neck ("NT = nuchal translucency"), which is done using a high-resolution sonography performed during the 14th week of pregnancy. According to unanimous expert opinion, this is the most important factor in addition to the existing age-related risk. In addition to measuring the fluid at the back of the baby's neck and the baby's nasal bone, we include additional parameters in the risk assessment as part of advanced screening in accordance with FMF guidelines (nasal bone, ductus venosus, tricuspid valve flow).

By combining the ultrasound in the 13th week of pregnancy and the early blood test to determine the levels of PAPP-A and free ß-hCG during the 9th week of pregnancy, the detection rate for trisomy 21 (Down syndrome or mongolism) for example, can be increased to 95%. This requires a special software that can analyse the early hormone levels.

Through this method we are able to provide a very accurate and individual risk assessment. In the event of an increased or intermediate risk, we will personally discuss which additional diagnostic tests are recommended.


Foetal DNA test (non-invasive prenatal testing – NIPT)


The foetal DNA test is a non-invasive diagnostic test that can reliably detect or exclude foetal trisomy 21 (Down syndrome) as well as trisomy 13 (Patau syndrome) and trisomy 18 (Edwards syndrome) using maternal blood.

The NIPT is performed by simply drawing blood from the mother's vein and therefore carries no risks whatsoever. Maternal blood contains fragments of the unborn child's genetic material. Using special techniques, these fragments can be augmented and screened for trisomy 13, 18 and 21 and, if desired, the child's sex chromosome. Through examining the sex chromosomes, additional X/Y chromosome abnormalities such as Turner syndrome (45,X0), Klinefelter syndrome (47, XXY) or Triple-X syndrome (47, XXX) can also be detected. The test cannot be performed before the 10th week of pregnancy (e.g. PraenaTest®, Harmony Test®).

However, the foetal DNA test does not replace an ultrasound scan. The ultrasound can be used to detect structural abnormalities such as heart defects.

This test should therefore always be preceded by an advanced ultrasound scan – so-called first trimester screening – as the diagnosis of a nuchal oedema or an abnormality in the infant's organs, for example, may require other diagnostic tests.

Our surgery offers a genetic consultation in combination with an early obstetric ultrasound (also known as a prenatal ultrasound scan).


Early screening for pre-eclampsia (toxaemia of pregnancy)


Risk assessment for pre-eclampsia – placental insufficiency.

Even a healthy pregnancy can develop complications later on. Pre-eclampsia (previously also known as toxaemia of pregnancy) is a serious complication that can occur in the second half of pregnancy. Symptoms include high blood pressure and a high level of protein in the urine. This results in reduced blood flow to the placenta, which supplies the unborn child with oxygen and nutrients.

In severe cases, the mother's liver and kidney function may be impaired and her hematopoietic and nervous system may be affected. For the foetus this can result in a low birth weight and problems with the lungs. To protect the lives of both the mother and the unborn child, a premature delivery is often necessary.

The blood flow in the vessels is measured using a special ultrasound scan (uterine artery Doppler analysis). In addition, a blood sample is taken to measure the levels of two proteins in the blood (PAPP-A and PLGF). By combining both methods we are able to identify a high percentage of those women who are at risk of developing pre-eclampsia. In cases of increased risk, a timely and preventative administration of aspirin (100mg/day) can often prevent pre-eclampsia, particularly the severe forms of the disorder.


INVASIVE PROCEDURES:

Placenta tissue biopsy (chorionic villus sampling)


A placenta tissue biopsy (chorionic villus sampling) involves removing a small piece of tissue from the placenta. The testing of these cells provides reliable evidence and helps determine whether the unborn child suffers from any potential diseases or disabilities.


Amniotic fluid test (amniocentesis)


In an amniotic fluid test (amniocentesis) a small sample of amniotic fluid is removed from the amniotic sack. The unborn child's cells contained within the fluid are tested for chromosomal abnormalities and hereditary disorders.


Percutaneous umbilical cord blood sampling (cordocentesis)


Percutaneous umbilical cord blood sampling (cordocentesis) is used to test the unborn child's blood. This allows us to detect issues such as anaemia or infections and the unborn child can be treated in the womb.


The informative value of invasive testing is very high in terms of composition and genetic traits (Array-CGH, next generation sequencing).

3D ULTRASOUND, 4D ULTRASOUND


In addition to traditional ultrasound scans, we offer 3 and 4 dimensional ultrasounds as well (3D and 4D Ultrasounds).

The 4D ultrasound is a particularly exciting experience because you see your child in three-dimensional form and get to see his or her movements. You can even take home a recording if you like.

3D sonography also broadens the diagnostic and medical possibilities.

TOXOPLASMOSIS


Toxoplasmosis is an infectious disease that can be transmitted from a mother to her unborn child. It is caused by the pathogen "Toxoplasma gondii". Infection can occur through contact with a cat (cat faeces) or through the consumption of raw meat (pork or beef tartar, ham, salami), undercooked meat or unwashed fruit, vegetables and salads.

In Germany about 45-50% of women of childbearing age have been infected with the Toxoplasma parasite with the infection going unnoticed and are therefore protected. If the disease is contracted for the first time during pregnancy, serious foetal malformations including brain damage and blindness can occur.

By taking a blood sample at the start of the pregnancy, we can determine early on whether toxoplasmosis-specific antibodies (antigens) are already present. In the absence of an immune response, additional follow-up tests should be conducted throughout the pregnancy.

In the case of an infection, medicines (antibiotics) are available.


CYTOMEGALOVIRUS


Cytomegalovirus is the most common infection during pregnancy.

Many women in Germany have been exposed to the virus before pregnancy and are therefore largely protected. However, for 40% of women who contract the virus for the first time during pregnancy, the foetus will also be affected. This can sometimes lead to serious defects such as delayed mental and physical development, hearing loss and damage to the eyes. This transmissible disease can also have delayed effects – about 10% of children who have been infected show symptoms, typically neurological in nature.

The cytomegalovirus (CMV) is transmitted through smear infection, i.e. through direct contact with infected body fluids such as saliva, urine, tears and genital secretions. The symptoms of CMV infection in a pregnant woman are often mild and flu-like. Infection is diagnosed through a blood test that checks for the presence of antibodies.

Ideally a CMV antibody test should be carried out as soon as a woman finds out she is pregnant. If there is no immunity to CMV, the following measures should be taken:



  • Hygiene measures: wash hands with soap after contact with any bodily excretions, especially those of infants
    (e.g. feeding, changing nappies, toys wet with saliva, etc.)
  • Antibody testing as part of prenatal care
  • In the case of an acute infection, immunoglobulin therapy if required


LISTERIOSIS


Listeriosis is a bacterial infection that when contracted in childhood often presents with mild, flu-like symptoms and often passes undetected.

An infection during pregnancy can however have serious, often fatal consequences for the unborn child. The most common source of infection is unpasteurised dairy such as raw-milk cheese. Consumption of these products should be avoided during pregnancy.

If the infection is identified in time, an antibiotic treatment that is harmless for the child is available. If an infection is suspected, a simple blood test can be performed to test for listeriosis.


B STREPTOCOCCUS INFECTION DURING PREGNANCY


Group B streptococci are present in the genital area of 20-36 % of pregnant women. These bacteria are usually harmless colonisers of the vaginal mucosa, but pregnant women can pass the infection to their infant at birth. This can result in serious infections for the baby shortly after birth or between 1 and 6 weeks later. Early-onset infections are associated with sepsis, pneumonia and meningitis. Neurological damage and long-term consequences are also to be expected with this early-onset form. In late-onset infections, there is an increased risk of death, particularly for premature babies.

For this reason, the society of German gynaecologists has set out recommendations for the prevention of the so-called neonatal group B streptococcal disease.

Preventing B streptococcal infection

To begin with, your doctor should discuss your medical history with you. Did one of your children have a B streptococcus infection at birth or have you ever had a urinary tract infection caused by B streptococci? If the answer to either question is yes, a dose of antibiotics should be administered during labour. Every pregnant woman should also be screened for the presence of B streptococcus between the 35th and 38th week of pregnancy. To do this, your doctor will need to swab your vagina and rectum. The smear samples will be sent to the lab, where a bacterial culture will be performed to determine whether the bacteria is present.

If you are diagnosed with a B streptococcus infection, antibiotics should be administered during delivery to minimise the risk of infection to the child. Taking antibiotics before the birth is not recommended as B streptococci bacteria can grow back very quickly once treatment is completed. Please be sure to tell the clinic and your midwife if B streptococcus was found during prenatal screening.

In the absence of an immune response, additional follow-up tests should be conducted throughout the pregnancy. In the case of an infection, medicines (antibiotics) are available.


ACUPUNCTURE


Acupuncture is one of the oldest forms of medical treatment.

It can be defined as a stimulation therapy practised on the body's surface to influence the body's interior. Acupuncture can be used to alleviate pregnancy symptoms and to prepare for labour and birth. It is low risk and causes no stress to the baby.

Pregnancy symptoms

Some women may experience nausea and/or vomiting in the first trimester of pregnancy. According to Chinese medicine, the cause is a weak and stagnated stomach qi or energy. The most important acupoint is Pe 6, which is located on the inside of the forearm. In addition to acupuncture, acupressure can also be effective.

Acupuncture can also be helpful in alleviating pregnancy-related back pain or emotional stress. We also offer other alternative forms of treatment in addition to acupuncture (e.g. homeopathy, medi-taping, etc.).

Preparing for labour and birth

A controlled study conducted by the Clinic of Gynaecology in Mannheim showed that acupuncture helped reduce the duration of dilation during birth by an average of two hours for first-time mothers. This effect is created by a faster cervical ripening. The time it takes for the cervix to dilate or to open completely is shortened. It is recommended to use acupuncture in preparation for labour and birth from the 37th week of pregnancy. In total this requires 4-8 sessions once or twice a week using the following acupoints Ma 36, MP 6, Gb 34, BI 67. Other psychologically harmonising acupoints may also be helpful: Du 20, Ex 6 and He7.

Click HERE  to download a summary of the above information in pdf format.