Noninvasive prenatal testing (NIPT), also referred to as cell-free DNA screening, is a prenatal screening test for Down syndrome and other chromosomal conditions. It can also be used to determine the sex of the fetus.
How Does NIPT Work?
Noninvasive prenatal testing (NIPT) tests blood which has been taken from the pregnant mother’s arm via a needle and syringe.
A pregnant woman’s bloodstream contains not only her own DNA (cfDNA), but also small fragments of fetal DNA (cfDNA) which has been shed from the placenta.
This fetal DNA in the mother’s blood can be screened in a laboratory for possible genetic abnormalities of the fetus.
DNA circulating in the blood is also known as cell-free DNA (cfDNA).
What Does NIPT Screen For?
- Trisomy 21 (Down syndrome)
- Trisomy 18 (Edwards’ syndrome)
- Trisomy 13 (Patau syndrome)
- Common sex chromosome conditions, such as Klinefelter syndrome and Turner syndrome
There are other conditions which NIPT can test for, however these tests can be less accurate. These conditions include:
Trisomy 16, Trisomy 22, Triploidy, Sex chromosome aneuploidy, certain disorders caused by small chromosomal deletions (Microdeletion syndrome), and certain single-gene disorders.
Talk to your health care provider about conditions you may need to be screened for.
How Safe is NIPT?
Because NIPT is not invasive, there is no risk to the baby. It only involves a simple blood test from the mother’s arm and there is no need for needles to come close to the baby or your bump.
When is NIPT Used for Screening?
NIPT can be tested as early as 10 weeks’ pregnant (gestationally) to 22 weeks’ pregnant (gestationally).
Can NIPT be Used to Determine Sex?
NIPT can be used to identify fetal sex. The blood sample taken from the pregnant mother is scanned for the presence of a Y (male) chromosome. If the NIPT shows a Y chromosome, the fetus is male. If no Y chromosomes are detected in the blood sample, the fetus is female.
NIPT tests which are used specifically to identify sex can be taken as early 6 weeks unlike NIPT screening tests which are taken between 8 and 22 weeks pregnant.
How Accurate is NIPT for Gender?
Diagnostic accuracy of NIPT for fetal sex determination is very high. The accuracy of NIPT is between 98-99.8%.