Are you trying to decide whether or not to undergo non-invasive prenatal testing? If your doctor has recommended it, or you’re considering undergoing the test, you may understandably have a few concerns.
Here, you’ll discover everything you need to know about non-invasive prenatal testing to help you make the best decision.
What is non-invasive prenatal testing?
Non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) is a blood test carried out before baby is born and is largely used to detect Down’s Syndrome. However, it can also pick up other chromosomal conditions such as Edward Syndrome and Patau Syndrome[i]. Otherwise referred to as non-invasive prenatal screening, it works by using the maternal scrotum cell-free circulating fetal DNA to identify abnormalities.
NIPT can be performed after just 10 weeks of the pregnancy, with results taking around 10-15 days to come back. It has shown to have an impressive accuracy rating of more than 99% when detecting Down’s Syndrome, making it one of the most reliable tests now available.
It isn’t currently available on the NHS, so women do need to undergo the test privately.
What benefits does non-invasive prenatal testing provide?
The main benefit of NIPT is the fact it doesn’t pose a risk to mother or baby. Up until now, more invasive methods such as amniocentesis have been the only option available. These invasive tests have posed a risk of numerous complications, and in rare cases can even lead to miscarriage. So, the fact NIPT is safe as well as accurate, is a significant benefit to pregnant women.
The test can also provide peace of mind to women who are worried about the health of their unborn baby. However, it is recommended that those with a low risk avoid having the test. Even though it is non-invasive, any unnecessary testing should always be avoided.
Evaluating your risk factor
NIPT is recommended for women who are at high risk of trisomy. If you do not know whether you’re considered high risk, there are a couple of factors you can look at.
Firstly, women aged over 35 are considered to be at a higher risk. However, the best way to determine your risk factor is to undergo routine screening that is offered between 11 and 14 weeks into the pregnancy. This involves having an ultrasound and a blood test which looks out for certain proteins within the blood. The doctor looks for markers which could pinpoint Down’s Syndrome and then assesses your age to determine your risk factor. They’ll let you know if you’re considered high risk or not.
It’s worth keeping in mind that this type of screening is not automatically provided. You will usually be given the option, but if not, don’t be afraid to ask for the screening to be carried out.
NIPT has a very low false positive rate too. So, if you are classed as a high risk, it is definitely worth undergoing NIPT privately. Contact us today to book a consultation and arrange your NIPT appointment.