New non-invasive technology can provide parents with valuable information about genetic conditions as early as 10 weeks

Pregnancy can be one of the most exciting times in a couple’s life, but with new advances in technology emerging all the time, it’s easy for future parents to be overwhelmed. On April 8th, Olive Fertility Centre in Vancouver held a talk on the options for prenatal testing with a focus on the latest technology they offer – non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT).

The talk began with Rachel Butler, Olive’s certified genetic counsellor, outlining genetic conditions and the various options for screening. The odds of having a child with genetic conditions increases with the age of the mother, but recent breakthroughs are steering women away from risky amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling (CVS) procedures and towards other methods of detection.

One of these methods is NIPT, the newest breakthrough in genetic screening options. It involves a single blood test taken from the mother’s arm. From there, the baby’s genetic material can be examined to give a remarkably accurate view of the child’s chromosomes. It’s 99.9 per cent accurate and can give information about a number of different conditions, the most common of which is Down’s Syndrome.

At Olive, the testing also comes with counselling sessions before and after the treatment, which Butler feels is a vital part of the process.

“I think that there’s so much information out there that it’s important that people know what they’re having testing for and that they’re comfortable getting that information before embarking on having that test."

Benefits of NIPT

(Source: Olive Fertility)

Extremely Accurate

  • 99.9% detection rate for Down syndrome
  • Low false positive rate of <0.2%
  • Low test failure rate of 0.07%

Simple

  • Requires only one blood test

Safe

  • A blood test is taken from the mother’s arm and poses no risk to the pregnancy

Early

  • Test can be done as early as 10 weeks of pregnancy

Fast

  • Results are usually available in 4 to 7 business days