Non-Invasive Pre-Natal Testing (NIPT)

Non-invasive pre-natal testing is designed to detect chromosomal abnormalities, which may indicate an increased risk of three genetic conditions, including Down’s syndrome, Edwards’ syndrome and Patau’s syndrome. There are two main NIPT tests available in the UK, including NIFTY and Harmony. Research suggests that the Harmony test has 99% accuracy for Down’s Syndrome, 97% accuracy for Edwards’ Syndrome and 80% accuracy for Patau’s Syndrome.

The test involves analysing a sample of the mother’s blood; within the sample, cell-free DNA is analysed to ascertain whether there is an elevated risk of the baby being born with foetal trisomy; the test will check for trisomy 21, which is linked to Down’s syndrome, trisomy 18, which is associated with Edwards’ syndrome and trisomy 13, which is linked to Patau’s syndrome.

NIPT can be used for single and twin pregnancies and is usually carried out from 10 weeks. The results of the test are not available immediately; usually, it takes around 2 weeks for the results to be ready.

NIPT is not a diagnostic test and if your test results show an increased risk of foetal trisomy, you will be advised to have further tests, which will help to confirm or rule out a diagnosis.

NIPT can help to provide you with information, which may enable you to manage your pregnancy more effectively, prepare for the future and make well-informed decisions.
Prior to the scan, you are advised to drink at least 0.5 litres of water so that your bladder is full.

NIPT is not used to check for abnormalities, such as structural defects or problems related to the heartbeat; these will be flagged up during routine ultrasound screening scans.

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