Is the Non Invasive Prenatal Test (NIPT) for you?

Is the Non Invasive Prenatal Test (NIPT) for you?

If you are in your first trimester, you would be advised the NIPT. Find out if the test is for you.

The first time I really researched NIPT was in our first trimester.

When my wife became pregnant, we joined a few sensible online forums. These had mums and dads from many countries. So, we got a good idea about what pregnant couples were going through in the different parts of the world. Needless to say, along with nausea, NIPT dominated the discussions in the first-trimester forums.

If you are in your first trimester, you will come across this term in various discussions or in one of your doctor visits. NonInvasive Prenatal Test or NIPT, is a test performed on the mother’s blood that detects a few genetic abnormalities to a fair bit of accuracy. But, this test is costly, and the protocol around its use is not well established yet.

You may have gone through some of the promotional material at the doctor’s office. I believe that you need to understand what this test means, and what it offers in order to make an informed choice.

What is NIPT?

As stated earlier, NIPT is a blood test performed on the mother’s blood. It is used to detect three most common genetic abnormalities: Down syndrome, Edward’s syndrome, and Patau syndrome. The test is taken early in your first trimester and the results are out in less than a week.

How is it different from the First trimester Downs screening test?

Like NIPT, FTS is a screening test. It takes into account the levels of certain biochemicals (PAPP-A and B-HCG) in the mother’s body along with some ultrasound parameters (Nuchal Translucency). The combined result gives you the risk of the child suffering from Down’s syndrome. For instance, a result that gives the odds of 1 in 2000 is a good result.

Unlike NIPT, the FTS is a two-step procedure. There would be a blood test and a sonogram. However, the cost of this is low compared to NIPT.

That is why many doctors would look at the maternal age and the results of the FTS before advising NIPT.

What are the advantages of NIPT?

NIPT has a better sensitivity for detection of the abnormalities. It can be taken in isolation and the need of the FTS is reduced.

It detects the three most common chromosomal abnormalities.

Who should go for it?

Generally speaking, every mother can go for it. It is not yet specifically indicated for any particular risk group. But it is not cheap. It is currently offered for about INR 30000 by a few private labs.
If you have conceived by IVF, chances are that the embryos are tested before implantation. You need not undergo this screening then.

But, if you are a first-time mother, past 32 years of age, with a family history of these syndromes, you could go for it. Just consult your doctor as the risk is person specific.

NIPT will give you an idea about the genetic abnormality early on. An unfavourable outcome of the same does not necessarily point towards a medical termination. The idea is to give you an idea about the conditions early so you can prepare for the future.

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(Image courtesy Americanpregnancy.org)

Written by

Anay Bhalerao

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