Dictionary of Human Evolution and Biology

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Procedure performed on pregnant women introduced in 1952, a method of sampling amniotic fluid that surrounds the developing fetus. The procedure involves the insertion of a hollow needle into the uterus and the withdrawal of fluid and suspended fetal cells. Cultured cells are used for the diagnosis of potential genetic and cytogenetic disorders in the fetus. The test is usually performed during the 15th or 16th week of a pregnancy.

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From "Dictionary of Nursing and Individual Health Care"