To screen or not to screen, that is the question?

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pregnancy-scanNot everyone wants to screen for a potential chromosomal problem in their pregnancy but when they do Non Invasive Prenatal Testing (NIPT) is the optimal chromosomal screening test currently available in the UK. However as this article says it is only available on the NHS to patients who screen high risk via the current 1st or 2nd trimester screening tests and is limited to only a few hospitals in the UK.

The number of laboratories offering NIPT testing is growing worldwide and this is also the case in the UK. This is my: works with the three main independent laboratories in the UK and two overseas laboratories in order to offer patients a choice of screening for their pregnancy.

All the laboratories that this is my: uses offer screening for the common chromosomal problem including Down’s, Edwards’ and Patau’s syndromes, with some also offering screening for certain microdeletions and sex link aneuploidy conditions including Turner’s. They also offer the option of screening for the gender of the baby.

The accuracy of the NIPT screen is greater than 99% for Down’s syndrome and far fewer women therefore have to undergo invasive testing unnecessarily, making it a far superior test than the current NHS screens.

The 1st trimester combined screen is the current NHS national test which uses a combination of ultrasound and maternal blood serum to detect up to 90% of affected chromosomal pregnancies. It also puts 1 in 30 patients into a high risk group where they are given a risk greater than 1 in 150 of the pregnancy being affected by Down’s syndrome. It is reassuring to know however that the majority of pregnancies falling into this category will be normal and will NOT be affected with a chromosomal abnormality. For these patients further testing is advised to rule out the pregnancy being affected by a chromosomal problem. Prior to NIPT the only testing available was invasive which carries up to a 1% risk of miscarriage to many likely unaffected pregnancies. NIPT has changed this. Many women falling into the high risk category are opting for NIPT instead of amniocentesis or Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS). In London it seems that this can be offered via the NHS in these opt in centres to high risk mothers, but women can also access this service at any stage as a private fee paying client in centres such as this is my:.

This is my: has also seen much demand from clients just wanting a better screen for their pregnancy. Over 80% of our clients have either already been given a low risk result or are just opting into our service wanting better screening. This has been the case for many years as this is my: has always offered ‘Gold Standard’ screening.  We have over  13 years of history of screening both private patients and also contracting with the NHS itself for the previous triple test screening. NIPT Chromosomal screening for Down’s syndrome and other chromosomal abnormalities has now been available for over three years at this is my:, and it seems the NHS now agrees with the benefits of this screening.

Further links below.

http://www.nhs.uk/news/2015/04April/Pages/New-Downs-syndrome-test-more-accurate-than-current-screening.aspx

http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/screening-amniocentesis-downs-syndrome.aspx

As this article suggests it is still a relatively expensive screen for the NHS to be able to offer it to the entire population at this point in time.

This is my: Health Screening and Ultrasound Centres constantly strive to offer screening which is affordable to as many as possible. Currently we offer a comprehensive screening package from 9 weeks including ultrasound and NIPT for £395.

It is important to note that an ultrasound
scan for the first trimester at 11 weeks should also include a structural check that the baby is developing normally including anatomy of the head, body and limbs whilst the NIPT blood test will rule out the main chromosomal problems to the highest degree.

NIPT is still a screening test and when a patient is given a high risk result on the NIPT screen then an invasive test is recommended to confirm the NIPT findings.

We have a team of trained advisors and clinical specialists who will be happy to talk to you about Non Invasive Prenatal Testing and the best options for you and your baby.

For further information please visit our Non Invasive Prenatal page here