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What Is Obstetric Panel Test?

An obstetric panel is a group of blood tests routinely performed to check the health status of pregnant women either before women attempt to conceive or early in pregnancy, that is, during the first trimester. These tests aim to look for common health conditions or infectious diseases in pregnant women that can transmit to the fetus and harm the newborn baby. This test helps diagnose diseases and guides treatment to prevent serious complications later in pregnancy. It is recommended by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology that all women should be tested for OB panel early in pregnancy. The obstetric panel consists of multiple tests, including:

  • COMPLETE BLOOD COUNT: this test measures different components of the blood like white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets which help in screening and diagnosing various health issues, including infections, anemia, clotting disorders, etc.
  • RBC ANTIBODY SCREENING (COOMB'S TEST): OB panel includes a blood test for antibodies; these antibodies are synthesized by the immune system against the body's red blood cells, which targets and destroys them leading to serious problems in pregnant women and their developing fetus including hemolytic diseases of the fetus and newborn, it can even lead to the death of the unborn baby or after birth. Further testing for identification, antibody titers, and antigen typing is conducted if the test came positive.
  • BLOOD TYPE AND Rh FACTOR: the test determines the group of blood as A, B, AB, or O and also the presence of the Rh factor. Rh factor is a protein antigen present on the surface of RBCs. If this antigen is present in your blood, it means your blood is Rh-positive, or if it is absent, that means your blood is Rh-negative. Generally, it does not produce any effect on your body. Still, if you are Rh-negative and your baby is Rh-positive, your body starts to produce antibodies against the baby's red blood cells; this usually does not threaten the current pregnancy. Still, it can generate life-threatening complications in developing fetuses in subsequent pregnancies. This test is even performed on those who already know their blood types to avoid any mistake in women's recall or incorrect documentation.
  • RUBELLA ANTIBODY (IgG): Rubella is a viral infection also known as German measles. This test is used to determine if you have developed immunity against the Rubella virus either by vaccination or by the previous infection. Suppose a woman catches the rubella virus during her pregnancy. In that case, she can transmit it to her unborn baby, putting the baby at risk of developing serious conditions including stillbirth, miscarriage, congenital cataract, hearing problems, and heart defects. However, its incidence is lower due to the availability of effective vaccination.
  • HEPATITIS B SURFACE ANTIGEN TEST: Hepatitis B is a chronic viral infection that infects liver cells, damages them, and leads to liver failure. This virus can be transferred from mother to baby through the placenta, during delivery, or via breast milk. Early detection may help your healthcare provider take major steps to prevent further complications like vaccinating your newborn just after birth. Hepatitis C is also a chronic viral infection of liver cells that can transfer from mother to her fetus, but it is not routinely tested as it is not very common.
  • RPR SCREENING TEST FOR SYPHILIS: Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infectious disease that a mother can pass on to her unborn baby. Syphilis may cause stillbirth and miscarriages, also leads to severe brain damage, anemia, enlargement of liver and spleen, blindness and deafness, jaundice, and skin rashes in newborns. Rapid plasma reagin (RPR) is the screening test for syphilis that detects antibodies present in the infected person's blood. If the RPR screen is reactive, then further confirmations are done by RPR titers and fluorescent treponemal antibody absorption test (FTA-ABS).
  • TEST FOR HIV: HIV is the human immunodeficiency virus that causes AIDS. A pregnant woman can spread HIV to her baby through the placenta or during delivery. This transmission can be prevented if the condition is diagnosed early in pregnancy.

What Is The Test Used For?

This test is a reflex test which means if the results return out of range or abnormal, then an additional confirmatory test is performed to determine the accurate diagnosis. Obstetric penal is one of the early tests your healthcare provider will run to look for any health condition that can transfer from expectant mother to her newborn and cause impairment in the baby. Certain health conditions can be prevented or treated if they are diagnosed early in pregnancy or may guide treatment for the baby immediately after birth, thus preventing form disastrous complications. 

When And Why You To Get Tested? 

It is a part of routine investigations in pregnant women generally conducted during the first trimester of gestation. You may need these tests:

  • If you are suffering from any of the diseases in the obstetric panel.
  • If you have an Rh-negative blood group.
  • If you have undergone miscarriages or experienced complicated pregnancies.
  • If you have had a child with congenital disabilities.

Your healthcare provider may order some additional tests with obstetric penal for further evaluation of your health, including urine tests, blood sugar levels, tests for tuberculosis, and STIs.

What Type Of Sample Is Required?

A sample of blood is collected from the veins in your arm or hand and obtained in a test tube or vial for testing. 

Do You Need To Prepare For This Test?

You don't need to do anything special to prepare for this test. However, you may be asked to drink more water before going for this test so that obtaining a blood sample becomes easier due to better blood flow. Moreover, you should inform your healthcare provider about all your medications, including multivitamins and other over-the-counter medicines, as certain medicines may interfere with the test results.

Is There Any Risk to This Test?

You may have very few risks related to this test, including bruising and pain at the site of the prick; very rarely, bleeding or infection may occur. Most of these symptoms go away quickly. However, your baby has no risk to this test.

What Does The Result Mean?

Test results are usually reported between 1-4 days. If the test results are in the normal range, this means that you are healthy, and your pregnancy will probably go smooth.

If the results are not normal, you or your baby may get treatment to prevent health problems. Example includes:

  • In case of Rh incompatibility, you may need to take medicine to stop your body from making antibodies against the baby's RBCs.
  • If you are diagnosed with Hepatitis B, your baby will receive vaccination within a few hours after birth.
  • If any infectious disease or STDs are diagnosed, you and your baby may require treatment for that disease.
  • In case of no immunity against rubella infection, you have to avoid contact with anyone who may have rubella infection throughout your gestation. Soon after delivery, you should get vaccinated.

If you have any questions regarding the test result, you should consult your healthcare provider.

Related Tests

  • Urine analysis
  • Random blood sugar(RBS)
  • Fasting blood sugar(FBS)
  • Oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT)
  • HCG test
  • Ultrasound scan
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