Earliest blood tests for pregnancy
If your developing baby is exposed to the German measles (rubella) virus, malformations, including deafness, blindness and heart disease, may occur.
This is particularly likely during the first three months when all the vital organs are forming and developing.
What to do blood test for pregnancy
If you did not have German measles as a child and were not vaccinated against it at puberty, consult your doctor before you try for a baby and ask for a blood test to find out if you’re immune. If you aren’t immune, ask to be vaccinated against rubella, and then wait at least three months before trying to conceive. If you’re already pregnant, a blood test will show if you have some immunity.
However, even if vaccinated, you may not be completely immune so if you come into contact with the disease, tell your doctor at once, though. Unfortunately, contact is most hazardous before the rash appears. If you are infected, you may want to discuss the difficult decision about whether to terminate your pregnancy.
It is important that you know how to protect yourself against the HIV that leads to AIDS, and to be assertive about it. All women should insist on safe sex, and any new sexual encounter should be prefaced by a frank discussion about HIV/AIDS. Over three-quarters of women who become infected with the HIV acquire it heterosexually, there being no particular social pattern. The risk varies from person to person and partner to partner – some women do not become infected after hundreds of contacts while others are infected after one.
When a virus gets into the body, the blood makes a substance called an antibody. People who have been infected with HIV produce antibodies to the virus and when tested, are said to be HIV positive. Because the mother’s antibodies can cross the placenta, all babies born to HIV-positive mothers will also show up as HIV positive initially, but not all of these babies will be infected with the virus. Sometime between the ages of six and 18 months many babies will lose their mothers’ antibodies and, once tested as HIV negative, they are then presumed to be uninfected.
More sensitive blood test for pregnancy is now being used to allow a diagnosis of HIV infection to be made in the first few months of life. Even if the baby is found to be HIV positive, a many good baby survives into later childhood, although a third of HIV-positive babies die before the age of two.
HIV testing is now recommended for all pregnant women. If you are found to be HIV positive, you should be counselled about the likelihood of contracting full-blown AIDS, and also about your risk of transmitting the virus to the baby. There are now treatments available that reduce the risk of a mother infecting her baby.