While a planned pregnancy is usually a cause for joy, it brings its own sets of concerns for the parents-to-be. To address these concerns and put them to rest, expectant parents often visit prenatal labs to learn about the health, gender, and paternity of the unborn baby. Pregnancy screening and DNA testing done in these labs ensure that you can determine your child's vitality, possible diseases, and long-term health challenges before full gestation. There are several major types of prenatal tests and screenings that can answer all questions you may have regarding your unborn baby.
Here are some common prenatal tests for expectant parents
First Trimester Screening
Down syndrome and heart defects are easy to identify through a first-trimester screening. It is carried out through a blood test that measures the hormone level of the pregnant mother. Apart from blood work, the test also involves an ultrasound, also known as a nuchal translucency that scans the back of the baby’s neck. The likelihood of Down syndrome or heart problems increases with the presence of extra fluid on the baby’s neck, revealed by this test.
Cell-Free DNA Testing
This DNA testing is non-invasive, which ensures the safety of the mother and the fetus. The test uses placenta DNA fragments found in the mother's blood. The test will reveal the child's possible risk for chromosome abnormalities by locating trisomy 13 and 18, which are indicators of Down syndrome and other genetic birth defects.
Non-invasive gender blood tests and prenatal paternity tests also fall under cell-free DNA testing. Laboratories will only provide this service to pregnant mothers who are at least ten weeks into pregnancy.
Chorionic Villus Testing
While cell-free DNA testing uses the mother's blood to find DNA fragments, chorionic villus testing will extract placenta tissue directly from the mother's cervix during her 10th and 13th week of pregnancy. The major downside of this prenatal testing is that it is a much more invasive form of testing that carries the inherent risks of causing harm to the baby and the mother.
The most invasive procedure of all, amniocentesis, uses a needle to extract fluid surrounding the baby. However, this method is fraught with risks as only highly-trained and experienced professionals can ensure the needle would never touch the child. Amniotic fluids contain a huge amount of fetal urine, which has fetal cells that provide the most accurate DNA reading possible.
At Prenatal Genetics Lab, we have experienced professionals that can provide you with safe and accurate non-invasive DNA tests to confirm the gender and the paternity of your unborn child. Contact us today to learn more about everything that we can do for you.