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Modern antenatal care aims to optimize both maternal and fetal outcomes. The various methods of prenatal fetal surveillance are directed towards early detection and, sometimes, prevention of chronic fetal hypoxia. The fetal response to acute or chronic hypoxia varies and is modified by the preceding fetal condition. Prenatal fetal surveillance tools are useful in pregnancies that are at high risk of developing chronic fetal hypoxia, but less so for acute events (e.g., placental abruption). There is evidence that fetal surveillance in unselected low-risk population is not cost-effective and leads to unnecessary interventions. Therefore routine prenatal fetal surveillance techniques or tests are not universally adopted in this group.
Invasive prenatal tests, including chorionic villus sampling, amniocentesis, fetal blood sampling, and fetal tissue biopsy, allow examination of fetal genetic material and tissue and provide information for the management of fetal infections and anemia. The specific test employed is usually dependent on the indication, parental wishes, and the timing of preceding screening tests.