Understanding Prenatal Testing
There are some great breakthroughs, which are now available to you in the area of prenatal genetic testing. One example of this is cell-free fetal DNA tests. This screening tool might be chosen by pregnant women because it is non-invasive and carries very little to no risk for the developing baby.
Genetic Testing Overview
DNA prenatal genetic testing is often completed when expectant parents are concerned about the presence of those abnormal genes. Most often, the parents are worried about the risk of or potential for certain diseases. These genetic abnormalities may be present in one or both parents, or they might develop within the fetus because of the age of the mother. Many expectant parents simply find this information to be comforting whether the tests show no abnormalities or whether positive tests give the expectant parents time to prepare for the potential disorders.
The Best Time to Conduct Genetic Testing
The best time to get tested depends upon just what you are hoping to discover during the testing.
If you are interested in finding out if you are a carrier of specific genetic disorders, then the best time to test is before you begin trying to get pregnant. This way you and your partner will be either reassured or prepared for the upcoming changes in your life. However, many pregnancies are unplanned and couples may opt to have the testing completed during the early weeks of the pregnancy.
Many fetal DNA tests are done in order to screen for Trisomy 13, Trisomy 18, and Trisomy 21. Trisomy 21 is better known as Down syndrome and affects a relatively high number of babies born in the United States. Other test results might include information about other less common conditions, and may also provide information such as the sex of the baby.
Another reason to obtain prenatal testing is to determine the paternity of the unborn baby. This test may be safely administered during both the first and second trimesters of the pregnancy. The necessary DNA samples are typically gathered by your chosen OB/GYN. The process utilized to obtain those samples might be an amniocentesis procedure or a CVS procedure, depending upon when the testing is done. However, paternity testing might also be conducted following the birth of the baby.
The Reliability of Genetic Testing
At the end of 2012, the accuracy of prenatal genetic testing was more than 99 percent. The improved technology, which makes this possible, is continuing to develop. Due to the improvements in safety and reliability, more and more prospective parents are looking for these tests for a growing number of reasons. Today, parents may even have access to at-home kits which provide some of the DNA testing results that they are interested in.
Will You Get the Answers You Are Looking For?
It is important that prospective parents are fully aware of precisely which results they will be able to get. Some prenatal testing will show whether certain disorders are likely, but don’t actually establish that the disorder will or will not be present. There is a big difference between awareness that Down syndrome is a possibility and that the syndrome is truly present.
Although it will be easy enough to determine the sex of the child, so far testing which shows the specific characteristics of the baby’s appearance are not available.
Other tests can verify the parentage of the child and can link the baby to grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, and siblings. However, these test results can also be obtained after the birth of the child.
Is Genetic Testing a Good Choice for You?
In order to determine whether or not you are a good candidate for genetic screening or whether the testing will even be of value to you, ask yourself the following questions:
- How important is the outcome of the testing?
- What will you do with the test results?
- Will one type of test result prompt you to take further, more invasive testing?
- Are you willing to put your baby’s well-being at risk in order to obtain test results?
- If you choose not to have the testing done, will you be able to handle the uncertainty?
These may be difficult questions to answer. Keep in mind that there are no right or wrong answers. You need to focus on what is best for you and your own situation when assessing the need for testing.