Healthcare & TechnologyA Quick Guide to Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing

April 10, 2022

Rapidly advancing medical technology never ceases to amaze us. At SMEDIX, we always have our hands busy with emerging healthcare tech projects. We’re proud to say that we had the opportunity to provide our tech expertise on non-invasive prenatal test efforts for our clients. A non-invasive prenatal test, or NIPT, is a fairly new type of test that screens for certain abnormalities in babies in the first trimester of a pregnancy. 

During pregnancy, some of the baby’s DNA is passed into the mother’s bloodstream. These DNA fragments originate from the placenta, and thanks to non-invasive prenatal tests, you can analyze maternal blood for signs of Down syndrome, Edwards syndrome or Patau syndrome. Although NIPT analyses the genetic information for a number of anomalies, it’s only a simple blood test that can be done starting with 9-10 weeks into the pregnancy. With the help of this test, you can identify whether you’re at risk or not of giving birth to a child with a genetic disorder.  

These tests are conducted to provide critical information about the health of both the mother and her baby, and can help mothers and doctors decide the next steps, if certain abnormalities are detected.  

SMEDIX is engaged in DNA sequencing and screening processes all over the globe, and our team decided to write a short informative article about this technology. This way, we can inform both patients and potential clients on the benefits of this amazing medical tech. 

How does NIPT work? 

NIPT is a simple blood test, and only requires a quick blood draw using a needle and syringe. Although it’s simple, it is one of the most accurate blood tests offered to women during pregnancy to potentially identify abnormalities in the fetus. The small pieces of genetic matter from the placenta are present in the bloodstream, and both the placenta and the baby have the same genetic elements.  

Even though NIPT looks at the placental DNA and provides answers if there is a high or a low chance for chromosome differences, it’s still just a screening test, and it cannot give 100% definitive results. Once blood is drawn, it’s sent to a lab where a physician and technician will look at the sample for signs of abnormalities in your child. The result is then paired with the first-trimester ultrasound and the doctor will decide if further testing is required.  

NIPT is completely safe and will not harm the mother or the baby. 

What does NIPT detect? 

All non-invasive prenatal tests screen for the three most common chromosomal disorders, which include trisomy 21, trisomy 18 and trisomy 13. If you’re unfamiliar with the scientific terms, trisomy 21 is Down syndrome, trisomy 18 is Edwards syndrome and trisomy 13 is Patau syndrome.  

The test picks up more than 99% Down syndrome cases, however, keep in mind that it’s a screening test, not a diagnostic test. Patients who take the test only find out if there is an increased risk of having a baby with abnormalities. Even though the test is designed for detecting the above-mentioned diseases, the rapidly evolving technology will soon provide more insight on both the baby and the mother. 

For example, there was an instance when an NIPT result indicated that the baby was at risk for genetic problems. However, it turned out that the baby was fine, and the results were actually indicating the early onset of cancer in the mother. Findings such as this need further research before physicians begin using non-invasive prenatal tests in the hopes of detecting additional issues. 

Where does SMEDIX fit in the world of NIPT? 

We are highly engaged in the technologies surrounding DNA sequencing and precision medicine screening, which doesn’t stop at Down syndrome and Edwards syndrome detection. Technological advancements in medicine now provide us with early disease detection solutions, as well as evaluation and prevention of chronic diseases that can lead to premature mortality, including cancer, cardiovascular diseases or genetic issues. We are actively involved in helping early disease detection and prevention processes with our software and services. 

Looking for software solutions for your business? 

If you’re keen to learn more about how we help our clients operating in this niche area of medicine, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We have extensive expertise in this field, and genuine passion for what we do. 

Our agile approach allows us to enhance dynamic medical environments and streamline processes to help you achieve your project milestones. SMEDIX’s mission is to boost the quality of healthcare products by applying leading technologies.