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If you are carrying a baby or trying to get pregnant soon, then you may have heard about a new prenatal screening test called Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing (NIPT). This NIPT test is becoming more and more popular because it is a safe and accurate way to screen for certain genetic conditions in the baby.
This article will discuss the NIPT test, how it works, and who should consider getting it.
What Is NIPT?
Non-invasive prenatal screening uses cell-free DNA from the plasma of pregnant women.
This is a blood test done as early as ten weeks into the pregnancy. It screens for three common genetic conditions: trisomy 21 (Down syndrome), trisomy 18 (Edwards syndrome), and trisomy 13 (Patau syndrome).
NIPT is an accurate test, with a false positive rate of less than 0.01 percent. If the blood test is positive, there is a 99.99 percent chance of the baby’s condition.
Down syndrome is a medical problem that causes intellectual disabilities and physical abnormalities. It is seen in about one out of every 700 births caused by an extra copy of chromosome 21.
Edwards syndrome is a chromosomal medical condition caused by the presence of all or part of chromosome 18 in addition to the average number of chromosomes. This extra material disrupts the baby’s development and can cause a wide range of severe health problems, including heart defects, intellectual disability, and breathing problems.
How Does NIPT Work?
The NIPT test works by screening for specific genetic markers in the baby’s DNA. These markers are associated with the three conditions mentioned above.
The test can detect chromosomal abnormalities down to a fraction of a percent. It can determine the baby’s sex and paternity (if desired).
Who Should Consider Getting NIPT?
All pregnant women are eligible for NIPT, but it is especially recommended for women who:
- Are you over the age of 35?
- Have a family history of genetic disorders
- Are you carrying multiple babies?
- Have had a previous pregnancy with a chromosomal abnormality
How Is The Test Done?
A blood test is a simple blood draw that can be done in your doctor’s office. You will need to have a venous blood sample draw, which means the needle will go into a vein in your arm.
The blood sample is sent to a laboratory, and you will receive your results within two weeks.
Understand The Baby’s Health Risks
NIPT is a great way to understand your baby’s health risks better. NIPT test can tell you if your baby is at risk for specific genetic conditions and help make informed decisions about your pregnancy.
Once you know about your baby’s risks, you can prepare for them and get the support you need. You may also want to consider prenatal genetic counseling to help you understand your results and options.
The counseling will include the following:
- An overview of the genetic conditions that NIPT can detect
- The chance that the baby has one of these conditions
- What the results of the test might mean for you and your baby
- Possible prenatal treatments or interventions.
Some Treatment Methods Are:
- In-vitro fertilization: This is a fertility treatment in which an egg is removed from the body and fertilized with sperm in a laboratory. The embryo is then transferred back to the woman’s uterus to grow and develop.
- Amniocentesis involves removing a small sample of amniotic fluid from the uterus. The fluid is tested for genetic abnormalities.
- Chorionic villus sampling (CVS): NIPT test can be done in the first trimester of pregnancy. It consists of taking sample tissue from the placenta. The tissue is tested for genetic abnormalities.
- Preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD): This prenatal test can be done on embryos created through in-vitro fertilization. It screens for genetic abnormalities before the embryo is implanted in the woman’s uterus.
- Cordocentesis: This test involves taking a blood sample from the umbilical cord. The sample is tested for genetic abnormalities.
- Medications: Medications like folic acid supplementations can be given to the woman during pregnancy to help prevent or treat specific health problems in the baby.
Your doctor will discuss your options with you and help you decide what is best for you and your baby.
NIPT is a great way to understand your baby’s health risks. However, it’s important to remember that this is not a diagnostic test. If the results are positive, you will undergo another test, such as amniocentesis or CVS, to confirm the diagnosis.
If you are considering having a NIPT test, be sure to talk with your healthcare provider about the benefits of the test. Ensure to understand what the results mean and how they impact your pregnancy.