Having a baby can be the most joyous time in a mother’s pregnancy. It may also bring great concern due to risk factors such as age or other concerns determined by a physician. With state-of-the-art genetic testing, there is a low-risk way to learn about the health of a fetus and the risk of certain birth defects.
Noninvasive prenatal screening in pregnancy provides a high degree of accuracy for screening certain chromosomal abnormalities, without the risk of miscarriage associated with an invasive procedure. A fetus’ genetic information is present in maternal blood, and this testing can be performed with a simple blood draw as early as 10 weeks into a pregnancy. About 97% of women have a normal test result.
Chromosomes are structures inside of cells that contain genetic information passed down from a baby's father and mother. These genes tell the body how to grow and develop. They also determine the sex. Females typically have two X chromosomes. Males have one X and one Y chromosome. Most people have 23 pairs of chromosomes. Some people are born with an extra or missing chromosome. This is a chromosomal abnormality. Having an extra chromosome (called a trisomy) can cause a birth defect. Certain factors can increase the chance of a chromosomal abnormality in a fetus, for example, in mothers age 35 or older.
Prenatal screening may be considered in mothers with a higher chance of chromosomal abnormality. These conditions include moth-ers age 35 or older at the time of delivery, abnormal fetal anatomy on ultrasound, previous pregnancy or family history of a chromosome abnormality, and/or a positive maternal-fetal serum screening. Noninvasive prenatal screening is a choice that offers an early, highly accurate, reliable result that provides greater accuracy than traditional maternal serum screening.
This test is very accurate; however, it is a screening test and is not diagnostic. If it is positive, further testing will be recommended to confirm the result. If it is negative, the risk of a chromosomal abnormality is low but does not guarantee the birth of a healthy baby.
Knowledge is Power. As much information that we may give our mothers and as much as we can help moms plan for the future, the better. Babies at risk are anticipated, the staff is notified and ready for quick intervention and support if needed. Mothers and fathers are informed and understand the options of treatment and possible necessary interventions. The physician-mother relationship is enhanced with the knowledge of a condition affecting the health of a baby and a plan for a successful outcome in the birth and neonatal period. Our sincere prayer as obstetricians is for the health and well-being of our mothers and babies, and we do this by providing excellent care and excellence in providing non-invasive prenatal screening to empower and equip our mothers with timely, accurate, and reliable information about their precious baby.
Dr. Vonda Ware
OB/GYN at Gwinnett Gynecology and Maternity
Eastside Medical Center Plaza 2
1800 Tree Lane, Suite 300
Snellville, GA 30078