Non-invasive Prenatal Testing — The Wave of the Future
Hearing those words come out of your obstetrician’s mouth can be terrifying – prenatal testing. Every 4.5 minutes a baby is born with a defect, according to the CDC, but testing to diagnose them isn’t risk-free either. Tests such as an amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling are invasive and can lead to procedure-related miscarriage. It is a bit of a devil’s bargain, but modern medicine may have found an answer.
Avoiding the Needle
Invasive tests involve sticking a needle into the uterus to obtain a sample that allows doctors to diagnose certain birth defects and genetic anomalies. One in every 200 women will have a miscarriage as a direct result of an invasive test.
Noninvasive prenatal testing, or noninvasive prenatal diagnosis, is a new approach to getting information about your baby. Currently, this test is only available when there is concern about chromosomal abnormalities in the fetus, but over time, it may become more common. This sophisticated test obtains fetal DNA from the mother’s blood instead of taking it from the uterus.
What NIPT Will Tell You
NIPT is sensitive enough to detect:
* Down syndrome
* Trisomy 13
* Trisomy 18
* Sex chromosome abnormalities like Turner syndrome
* Baby’s sex
* Baby’s blood type
The good news is the NIPT poses no risk to the mother or child. The bad news is the test will not detect all chromosomal or genetic conditions. It simply rules out the common concerns.
Noninvasive prenatal testing is cutting edge medical technology. If you fall into any of the risk categories for birth defects – you are over the age of 35, carry an X-linked recessive disorder or you have Rh-negative blood – ask your health care provider about NIPT. Since this is a new testing procedure, check with your insurance company to ensure they cover the cost, too.