New first trimester screening gives yes or no answer
I’ve just got back from a great meeting here in Ballarat. Melbourne Womens Imaging provide most of the ultrasounds for my pregnant patients. Tonight they gave an update on the recent developments in early pregnancy testing. More and more information can now be discovered in the first trimester.
Most of you will know that screening for Down Syndrome and other abnormalities is available in the first trimester of pregnancy. Traditional screening is non-invasive (safe for baby) but unfortunately only gives an estimated result (1 in 50 chance, 1 in 5000 chance etc). An exact result required an invasive test, such as amniocentesis, that carried risks for the baby.
Harmony (or NIPS) Testing is an exciting development that makes exact, non-invasive testing possible. A sample of the mother's blood is taken and sent for analysis. The new test can find tiny strands of DNA from the pregnancy that are circulating in the mother's blood. These can be tested for conditions such as Down Syndrome. The result is usually a clear YES or NO answer.
At the moment Harmony testing is still very new. It costs around $550. Many couples find this price acceptable for the additional peace of mind. I hope the price will come down as the test becomes more common and competition develops between providers.
I'm offering Harmony testing to all patients at their first visit. I'm happy to discuss testing in more detail when you come to see me.