Pregnancy Lab Tests

Let's take an in-depth look at the laboratory testing performed in pregnancy.

Urine Analysis and Culture
In many prenatal care clinics, routine testing of urine for protein and glucose has been discontinued. Evidence shows us that mothers who are tested at each visit fare as well as those who are not. However, collection of a clean-catch urine specimen for analysis and culture is still part of the laboratory testing at the initial visit, and it may be repeated at 26 to 28 weeks as well.

Despite the fact that the mother may have no symptoms, bacteria present in urine may increase the risk of kidney infection and may predispose her to preterm birth.

Complete Blood Count (CBC)
Collection of a CBC is becoming the standard of care in most areas of the United States. Tests in this panel include hemoglobin measurement and analysis of red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets.

Hemoglobin measurement tells us about the state of the mother's iron stores. This test, or its sister test, the hematocrit, may be done several times during the pregnancy. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has defined anemia in pregnancy as a hemoglobin concentration less than 11 g/dL in the first and third trimesters, or 10.5 g/dL in the second trimester. Iron deficiency anemia is the most common medical complication of pregnancy and, depending on the population being studied, occurs in 5 to 25 percent of pregnant women. In most pregnancies, maternal anemia does not lead to fetal anemia because the baby is very efficient at extracting hemoglobin from the mother.

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