If you have been diagnosed as having a high-risk pregnancy, you may have been recommended to undergo the standard amniocentesis test. One of the most widely used tests to detect chromosomal abnormalities, amniocentesis involves taking samples from the amniotic fluid which surrounds baby in the womb. However, as it poses a small risk of a miscarriage, patients are understandably concerned about having the test done.

One alternative to amniocentesis which could prove safer for baby is non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT). So, is this type of testing really a good alternative and is it as effective as the standard testing?

What is Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing?

NIPT is a blood test which is used to assess baby’s DNA using only the mother’s blood. It is capable of testing for the most common chromosomal abnormalities, including Down’s Syndrome, Patau Syndrome and Edwards Syndrome. It can also help to detect baby’s sex, earlier than an ultrasound.

The test was introduced in 2003 and it has gone on to become a popular alternative to amniocentesis testing.

How does it detect chromosomal abnormalities?

NIPT detects chromosomal abnormalities by analysing the chromosomes within the DNA. The average person has 23 different chromosomes in every cell. However, in those with Down’s Syndrome, for example, they have an additional chromosome which is what leads to mental and physical differences.

Within the mother’s blood, there is approximately 10% to 20% of cell-free fetal DNA. It is this which is tested for chromosomal abnormalities and it comes directly from the placenta. The test can be done from 10 weeks into the pregnancy.

Is it as effective as amniocentesis?

As NIPT isn’t as invasive as amniocentesis, many patients are concerned whether or not it is as effective. The good news is, NIPT has proven to be 99% effective at detecting Down’s Syndrome and over 98% effective at detecting other common chromosomal abnormalities.

NIPT also doesn’t pose any risk of miscarriage. So, when comparing the two, NIPT does tend to outshine amniocentesis.

Can you only have NIPT if you’re classed as having a high-risk pregnancy?

You can undergo NIPT in any pregnancy, not just if you’re considered to be at high risk. However, you will only be offered the test free of charge on the NHS if you do have a high-risk pregnancy. If you still want to have the test done even though you’re considered low risk, you will need to pay for the test privately.

As NIPT is non-invasive and poses no risk to the baby, there is no harm in paying to have one privately. In fact, it could provide you with peace of mind as it can help to ensure nothing has been missed in your standard prenatal screening.

If you’d like to have NIPT to put your mind at ease, call 07835 736627 and contact SureScan today. During a consultation, you will find out everything you need to know about the test and whether or not it’s the right option for you.