An Update on Current Prenatal Testing Options: First Trimester and Noninvasive Prenatal Testing

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Abstract

Prenatal genetic testing is rapidly evolving and requires that prenatal care providers stay up-to-date with accurate, evidence-based knowledge. Noninvasive prenatal testing (NIPT), first trimester maternal serum markers, and fetal nuchal translucency are the most recently developed screening tests added to the testing repertoire for detection of chromosomal disorders such as trisomy 21 (Down syndrome). NIPT is a new, highly accurate technique that uses maternal serum and is rapidly being introduced as a first trimester screening tool and increasingly being requested by pregnant women. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that all pregnant women be offered first and second trimester screening options, regardless of risk status, but does not yet recommend NIPT. It is important for prenatal care providers to be aware of and understand these testing options in order to assist women and their families in making well-informed decisions during pregnancy. The purpose of this article is to update midwives and other prenatal care providers on the current prenatal genetic testing options available and how to appropriately offer and discuss them with their clients. We discuss how these tests work; what to do with the results; and most importantly, how to support and communicate accurate information to women and families as they navigate through an increasingly complicated array of testing choices.

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