Amniocentesis is a procedure in which a long needle is inserted through the mother's abdomen into the pregant uterus, and a sample of amniotic fluid is obtained. This test is done for purposes of prenatal diagnosis of a variety of conditions, including chromosomal errors such as Down syndrome (trisomy 21), as well as blood group incompatibilities and metabolic disorders. It is routinely offered to pregnant mothers over age 35 as well as mothers who carry fetuses known to be at risk for other genetic conditions. There is definite risk to the fetus from such a procedure, so it is not done lightly, nor if the results would not change clinical management or parental decisions about the unborn child. Amniocentesis will likely be supplanted in the future by new technologies that analyse fetal DNA from the mother's bloodstream.

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