Article of the Month
New Genetic Screening
Most couples seek reassurance that their baby is normal. Recently genetic screening for normality has become easier. A combination of maternal blood test at 10 weeks and an ultrasound scan at 12 weeks will exclude for most couples the common and serious abnormalities your baby could have.
A recent improvement has been the partial funding by the Ministry of Health of a program for Antenatal Screening for Down ’s syndrome and other conditions. This brings New Zealand in line with genetic screening programs that have been available overseas for some years.
The program involves a maternal blood test at 10-12 weeks and the usual ultrasound scan at 12-13 weeks of pregnancy.
This new program incorporates two hormone markers from the placenta with two ultrasound anatomical markers with each woman’s age to generate a risk estimate. This number for most couples provides reassurance of the low risk of these conditions or for some can be used to decide on more invasive testing such as a placenta biopsy at 13 weeks to check baby’s normality.
Conditions detected by this program include the chromosomal conditions which increase with the woman’s age such as Downs Syndrome and fetal heart abnormalities.
The main improvement, for couples who chose this program, is that the results, usually confirming normality of course, are all available by 14 weeks, which is a month earlier than they where in the past.
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