Towards the end of your pregnancy, you will be invited for a screening to determine whether your baby has any chromosomal abnormalities. Non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) is used for early screening for Down’s syndrome and Edwards’ syndrome, which are two common chromosomal abnormalities that can cause learning disabilities or physical problems. The test involves taking a blood sample from you at your GP or hospital antenatal clinic, using a small needle to take some blood from your arm.
NIPT is a relatively new test that has been shown to be highly accurate at detecting chromosomal abnormalities like Down’s syndrome and Edwards’ syndrome. It is sometimes offered as an alternative to invasive tests such as amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling (CVS). Another advantage of NIPT is that it can tell you your baby’s gender.
A non-invasive prenatal test (NIPT) is a blood test to look for your baby’s DNA in your blood. It can be used at 10 weeks of pregnancy or later. This test is sometimes called a cell-free fetal DNA test. It’s usually offered together with an ultrasound scan.
The NIPT can tell you whether your baby has Down’s syndrome, Edwards’ syndrome, Patau’s syndrome, Turner syndrome and some other rare chromosome conditions. It can’t tell you the sex of your baby, or whether there are multiple babies in your womb (twins or triplets).
How do NIPTs work?
Your blood is tested for fragments of your baby’s DNA. These fragments come from the placenta – the organ that joins your baby to your womb (uterus). The test works by looking for parts of chromosomes that are different in people with these conditions. The results are usually available within three working days.
The risks of non-invasive prenatal testing “There are no risks associated with NIPT when carried out by trained healthcare professionals,” says Sarah Brewer, spokesperson for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG). “In rare cases there may be side effects with any medical procedure.
A number of different companies offer NIPT tests, but all follow the same basic process:
- You call their helpline to discuss your concerns about your pregnancy and to arrange an appointment for testing.
- You attend for a consultation where you discuss concerns about your pregnancy with a doctor or genetic counsellor. They will explain what is involved in the test, what the results mean, and how you should prepare for the test.
If you are looking to get a NIPT test done in UK, you can visit one of our clinics or book an appointment online for prenatal testing scans online at Ultrasound Plus.