Prenatal testing or Prenatal diagnosis is a word used for a number of technologies. These technologies are used to test unborn children for birth defects, as well as for some genetic disorders. They can be classified as invasive tests (where a needle is inserted, to get placental fluid for example. Non-invasive tests include things like sonograms.
Most often this is performed to test for birth defects. Common procedures include amniocentesis, sonograms, nuchal translucency testing, or genetic screening. The tests can be used to check for conditions such as Down syndrome, spina bifida, cleft palate, Tay Sachs disease, sickle cell anemia, thalassemia, cystic fibrosis, and fragile x syndrome. In some cases, the tests are administered to determine if the fetus will be aborted.
In some cases, fetal screening has been done to determine characteristics generally that are not considered birth defects. In some parts of the world, if a fetus is determined to be female, it is sometimes aborted. The rise of designer babies and parental selection for specific traits raises a number of ethical and legal issues.