Cultural Dictionary
amniocentesis [(am-nee-oh-sen-tee-sis)]

A procedure for finding certain disorders in a fetus during pregnancy. In amniocentesis, a small amount of the salty liquid that surrounds the fetus in the amniotic sac is drawn out through a needle inserted into the mother's abdomen. The fluid generally contains some isolated cells from the fetus. These cells are analyzed to detect abnormalities in the chromosomes of the fetus, such as Down's syndrome, and may also be used to judge some other conditions, such as the maturity of the fetus's lungs.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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