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What is NIPT? Should I Get Tested?

Dr. Meera Shah holds a sign that says NIPT

NIPT stands for non-invasive prenatal testing, a blood test performed during pregnancy to screen for genetic abnormalities, such as Down’s syndrome. It can be performed as early as nine weeks and the results usually take one to two weeks to return.

NIPT was first introduced in 2011 and was developed to reduce the need for invasive prenatal tests such as chorionic villus sampling (CVS) and amniocentesis, procedures in which a needle is directly entered into the uterus which carry a risk of miscarriage.

A recent article in the The New York Times discussed some of limitations of NIPT testing. It is important to understand NIPT is a SCREENING test, NOT a DIAGNOSTIC test. In other words, it can assess risk, but it cannot confirm the presence of a genetic abnormality. If an NIPT result is abnormal, it could either be a true or false result, so the next step is to offer a CVS or amnio to confirm the findings.

I counsel all my patients about the benefits and limitations of NIPT and offer it to all my patients as it is a highly accurate screening test that can provide an immense amount of peace of mind early in the first trimester. It is important to have this conversation with your doctor or a genetic counselor to decide if NIPT is a good test for you.

Courtesy: @dr_meerashah

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Dr. Meera Shah nniu

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