testing for Down's Syndrome

Advancements in technology over the years has made it easier for practitioners to test for chromosomal abnormalities. Conditions such as Down’s Syndrome, Patau’s Syndrome and Edwards’ Syndrome can be picked up on pretty early thanks to advanced screening techniques.

The question is, are these tests in pregnancy safe for you and baby? Here, you’ll discover everything you need to know about testing for Down’s Syndrome.

What is Down’s Syndrome?

Down’s Syndrome is caused by a chromosomal abnormality. Those with the condition have an additional chromosome which develops due to a genetic change within the egg or sperm. It causes learning difficulties to some degree, although sufferers of the condition today do tend to lead a fulfilling and healthy life. It all depends upon the severity of the condition.

While the condition can occur in any pregnancy, there is more of a risk for older mothers; particularly those aged 45 and over.

Will prenatal screening confirm if baby has Down’s Syndrome?

Prenatal screening will not confirm if your baby does have Down’s Syndrome. However, it does give some indication of the likelihood of baby being born with the condition. If it is discovered there is a chance baby could have some form of chromosomal abnormality, a diagnostic test will be required for confirmation.

Is it safe?

The prenatal screening tests for Down’s Syndrome are considered just as safe as a 2D ultrasound scan. They don’t pose any risk of miscarriage or any risks to your baby. However, if you are concerned you don’t have to undergo the screening. It’s only recommended, rather than required. That being said, there are a lot of benefits of having the screening.

The benefits of testing for Down’s Syndrome in pregnancy

Although it might be scary to undergo additional scans, particularly if you’ve been told you have a high-risk pregnancy, they do present numerous benefits.

Firstly, if baby does turn out to have the condition, knowing about it as early as possible gives you plenty of time to prepare. You can find out as much about the condition as possible before baby is born. It also gives you the opportunity to ensure you’re giving birth in a hospital which has good facilities for babies with special needs.

Of course, there is also chance your baby might not have the condition. So, the screening test could simply put your mind at ease.

How is the screening carried out?

The screening process for Down’s Syndrome will depend upon how far along you are with the pregnancy. If you’re between 10 to 14 weeks pregnant, you will be offered a combined test. This includes both a blood test and an ultrasound scan. The blood test looks for hCG hormones, along with plasma proteins developed specifically during pregnancy. The ultrasound scan checks the level of fluid surrounding baby’s neck.

If you’re 14 to 20 weeks pregnant, a combined test won’t be available. In this case, you’ll need to undergo what is known as a quadruple test. This is basically a blood test which looks at four different proteins.

Overall, testing for Down’s Syndrome in pregnancy is generally considered safe. The screening doesn’t pose any risks to you or baby. If you’d like to undergo optional Down’s Syndrome screening, call 0121 308 7774 or email info@​surescan-womenshealth.co.uk to book a consultation with SureScan today.