Brazilian Natural Medicine

Rapid tests and screenings during pregnancy promote women’s health and protect the baby — Português (Brasil)

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During pregnancy, performing tests to prevent and/or identify diseases is a strategy to avoid possible complications and provide health for the woman and the baby. The Pregnant Woman’s Handbook lists the tests and exams available in the Unified Health System (SUS), as well as guidelines on prenatal care, partner’s prenatal care, pregnant women’s rights, tips for a healthy pregnancy, among others. Among the exams indicated for pregnant women and available in the SUS, are:

  • Blood typing and Rh factor

Identifies blood type. If the pregnant woman is Rh negative and the baby’s father is Rh positive, the woman must have another test during prenatal care: the Indirect Coombs. After birth, if the baby is Rh positive, the woman should have an injection to avoid problems in the next pregnancy. Women are entitled to anti-D immunoglobulin through SUS.

It is a test that analyzes specific information about blood components. Through it, anemia can be identified, for example, which is the lack of iron in the blood. Anemia is common in pregnancy, but the expectant mother needs to follow the prescribed treatment correctly.

  • Hemoglobin electrophoresis

Analyzes blood hemoglobin to identify the presence of changes consistent with sickle cell disease, thalassemia or other hemoglobinopathies. These diseases are hereditary and require special care during pregnancy.

It is the test that evaluates the blood sugar level. If it is high, it may indicate gestational diabetes, which must be managed with diet, physical activity and, on some occasions, the use of medication. However, if the blood glucose level is normal, the woman will have another test between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy, called the Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT). This is to investigate whether she developed gestational diabetes during pregnancy, in a very specific way.

  • Urine culture test with antibiogram

It should be performed right at the beginning of prenatal care. It identifies the presence of bacteria in the urine that cause infection, even if the woman does not have symptoms. It is called asymptomatic bacteriuria which, if left untreated, can progress to cystitis and pyelonephritis. This test also tells you which antibiotics are most suitable for treating the infection.

  • Cervical cancer screening

Popularly known as pap smear, it needs to be performed periodically by all women who have had sexual intercourse, from the age of 25. It helps detect cervical cancer and can be performed at any stage of pregnancy, as it poses no risk to the baby.

  • Rapid Syphilis Test and VDRL

These tests identify syphilis, a sexually transmitted infection that can pass from a pregnant woman to her baby during pregnancy. The rapid test is done by collecting a drop of blood taken from the finger, while the VDRL test is done through a blood test.

When left untreated, syphilis can cause miscarriage of the fetus, premature birth, low birth weight, malformations and even death of the newborn. In case of a positive test, both the pregnant woman and the partner should be treated as soon as possible. If the partner is not treated, the pregnant woman will be infected again. Syphilis treatment should be done at the Basic Health Unit where prenatal care is performed.

  • dental evaluation

Identifies oral problems and the need for dental treatment during pregnancy.

They identify the virus that causes AIDS, a disease that compromises the body’s defense system, causing the loss of resistance and protection against other diseases. HIV can be transmitted from mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding. The earlier the virus is identified and treatment started, the greater the chance that the woman and baby will be healthy. The rapid HIV test should be performed at the beginning (first trimester) and at the end of pregnancy (third trimester). It can also be done at the time of delivery.

It should be performed in all pregnant women with symptoms in regions with a record of the disease. Malaria is an acute febrile infectious disease transmitted by the bite of an infected female Anopheles mosquito, also known as the capuchin mosquito. During pregnancy, there is a greater risk of developing complicated forms of the disease, such as severe anemia from malaria and maternal death. For the child, maternal malaria increases the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, prematurity and low birth weight, representing an important cause of infant mortality.

  • Tests for hepatitis B (HBsAg)

They identify the hepatitis B virus, which can pass from the pregnant woman to the baby during pregnancy. If it is identified that the woman has the virus, care for the child soon after delivery, through vaccine and human anti-hepatitis B immunoglobulin, can protect him from the virus.

Identifies whether the woman has or has had toxoplasmosis. This disease can be acquired by eating contaminated food and/or by contact with contaminated soil. The infection can be transmitted to the baby during pregnancy, bringing health complications, either while in the womb or having consequences after birth.

As measures to prevent toxoplasmosis, it is important to always wash your hands before handling food, not to eat raw or undercooked meats, to wash fruits and vegetables properly before eating, not to use the same knife to cut meats and other vegetables or fruits, do not consume raw milk or cheese, avoid contact with any material that may be contaminated with cat feces, such as soil, lawns and litter boxes, and wear gloves when working with soil.

  • Exams for partner

All people whose partner is in prenatal care are entitled to undergo examinations. For men, the SUS has a strategy called “Father/Partner’s Pre-Natal”, which helps him to actively participate in the gestational period, in promoting the health of pregnant women and their own health. Thus, they also have the opportunity to perform tests, such as STIs, HIV/AIDS and viral hepatitis, cholesterol and blood glucose, in addition to receiving prevention guidelines and treatment prescription, if they have been diagnosed with any disease.

All the tests and exams mentioned, as well as comprehensive prenatal care, are offered free of charge through the Family Health teams and at the Basic Health Units of the Unified Health System (SUS).

Fran Martins
Ministry of Health

Official content – Fact Check – Verified

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