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MMWR Recomm Rep. 1995 Jul 21;44(RR-9):1-12.

Chorionic villus sampling and amniocentesis: recommendations for prenatal counseling. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Chorionic villus sampling (CVS) and amniocentesis are prenatal diagnostic procedures that are performed to detect fetal abnormalities. In 1991, concerns about the relative safety of these procedures arose after reports were published that described a possible association between CVS and birth defects in infants. Subsequent studies support the hypothesis that CVS can cause transverse limb deficiencies. Following CVS, rates of these defects, estimated to be 0.03%-0.10% (1/3,000-1/1,000), generally have been increased over background rates. Rates and severity of limb deficiencies are associated with the timing of CVS; most of the birth defects reported after procedures that were performed at > or = 70 days' gestation were limited to the fingers or toes. The risk for either digital or limb deficiency after CVS is only one of several important factors that must be considered in making complex and personal decisions about prenatal testing. For example, CVS is generally done earlier in pregnancy than amniocentesis and is particularly advantageous for detecting certain genetic conditions. Another important factor is the risk for miscarriage, which has been attributed to 0.5%-1.0% of CVS procedures and 0.25%-0.50% of amniocentesis procedures. Prospective parents considering the use of either CVS or amniocentesis should be counseled about the benefits and risks of these procedures. The counselor should also discuss both the mother's and father's risk(s) for transmitting genetic abnormalities to the fetus.

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