Birth defects in children are, in reality, quite common. The WHO estimates that around 6% of infants are born with congenital anomalies, many of which can prove to be fatal.
If you are worried about genetic anomalies in your child, it’s best to remain informed about your options – specifically NIPT testing.
The ‘Why’ Behind Genetic Disorders
Congenital disabilities include diseases such as cerebral palsy, Downs syndrome, heart disease, and cancer.
While the leading cause for these diseases is genetic, they can also be caused by a variety of other reasons, such as the over-consumption of certain foods and from diseases affecting an expectant mother.
Genetic defects can put a child’s health and future at risk, but can also complicate pregnancy and cause problems during labor and delivery.
Some cases have also been known to put the health of a mother carrying a child with genetic disorders at risk. However, there are protective detection and treatment measures that can help mitigate these risks.
Prenatal screening can determine a child’s genetic health as early as the first trimester. After prenatal screening, doctors can provide treatment recommendations and resources to help you determine the best next steps for your child’s health.
One of the easiest and most cost effective genetic testing methods is available through noninvasive prenatal testing (NIPT).
These tests have been around for over a decade and provide extremely accurate and helpful results when it comes to understanding the risks of potential genetic abnormalities.
So, What Exactly is NIPT?
As the name suggests, non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) is carried out on expectant mothers to check the genetic health of a child.
It is a screening test, so it does not provide a definitive diagnosis, but it can easily identify anomalies all across the 23 pairs of chromosomes in a child’s DNA.
NIPT looks for common trisomies such as Down’s syndrome and DiGeorge syndrome. Depending on the results, more detailed and comprehensive testing methods might be needed.
Thorough testing allows healthcare providers and genetic counselors to get a better look at a child’s unique genetic makeup.
How Does NIPT Work?
NIPT checks a child’s genetic health in one easy, non-invasive step, through a simple blood draw.
An expectant mother’s bloodstream also carries tiny DNA fragments of the baby within it. Geneticists will look for these fragments and study them to determine a child’s health.
NIPT can be carried out as early as the first trimester – nine weeks into a pregnancy. These tests don’t require amniotic fluids but are still very accurate, making the overall procedure extremely easy.
Another plus is the fact that NIPT is non-invasive, so they don’t pose any risks to your baby.
Should Get Yourself and Your Baby Tested?
If you’re still considering whether or not you should get prenatal screening, there are many things to consider.
However, if you have a family history of genetic disorders or have had complicated pregnancies in the past, you should definitely consider the benefits of NIPT.
In addition to genetic screening and regular checkups, you should also be sure to watch what you eat and exercise regularly to ensure your child is healthy and well-nourished.
NIPT can help provide clarity about your child’s potential for genetic or chromosomal anomalies, and any questions you may have about them can be directed toward your OB-GYN, pediatrician, or general practitioner.
Overally, pregnancy is complex but genetic testing can help ensure a happy and healthy pregnancy.