1519.jpegAs your family grows, you may be dreaming about your new baby. Whether they’ll be a boy or a girl, have a certain hair color, or inherit traits from you or your partner, you’ll love them just the way they are. 

However, with advancements in medical science, it's now possible to glimpse your baby's future even before they are born. Genetic testing during pregnancy can provide valuable information about your baby's health and well-being, providing you with peace of mind and the opportunity to make informed decisions for your family.

At Advanced Women's Care of Pittsburgh, we offer various genetic testing options for expecting parents. In this guide, we'll discuss the basics of genetic testing during pregnancy, as well as some of the different tests and their benefits.

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What Is Genetic Testing During Pregnancy?

Genetic testing during pregnancy involves examining the DNA of a developing fetus to identify potential genetic disorders or abnormalities. This can be done through various methods, including blood tests, ultrasound, and amniocentesis. 

The ultimate aim of genetic testing is to equip expectant parents with insights into their unborn child’s health, shedding light on potential genetic disorders, chromosomal anomalies, and inherited conditions. This can help parents make informed decisions about their baby's health and plan for any necessary medical care or treatment.

What Are The Types of Genetic Testing Available?

Knowing the types of genetic testing in prenatal care is crucial for parents. Different tests assess the fetus's health and genetic makeup. Some of the tests we offer at Advanced Women’s Care of Pittsburgh include: 

  1. Materni T21/NIPT: This test is crucial for expecting parents. It involves a simple blood test procedure that primarily screens for genetic anomalies related to trisomy 21 (Down Syndrome), trisomy 18, and trisomy 13. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends this comprehensive noninvasive prenatal test (NIPT) as a standard of care in genetic screening and can also determine the fetus's gender.
  2. Serum Genetic Screening: Serum screening is less sensitive than NIPT, but it can still assess the risk for trisomy 21, neural tube defects, and other potential genetic anomalies.  The first-trimester screen, quad screen, and sequential screen are examples of serum screening.
  3. MSAFP: The MSAFP test is a second-trimester blood test that screens for potential abnormalities such as open neural tube defects (e.g., spina bifida), defects in the abdominal wall, and other chromosomal abnormalities. It is recommended between 16 and 21 weeks of gestation.
  4. Carrier Screening: In addition to genetic tests during pregnancy, we also offer screenings for parents preparing to conceive, including tests for Cystic Fibrosis, Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), and Fragile X Syndrome.

What Are The Benefits of Genetic Testing?

While it may seem daunting to think about potential health issues with your unborn child, knowledge is power. Genetic testing can provide valuable information that can help parents make informed decisions and plan for their baby's future. Understanding these benefits can help expectant parents make informed decisions:

  • Early Detection of Genetic Conditions: One of the most significant benefits of prenatal genetic testing is the possibility of early detection of genetic conditions. Identifying issues early on can lead to more effective management of the condition, potentially even before the child is born.
  • Informed Decision-Making for Expectant Parents: Comprehensive information about the health and genetic condition of the fetus better equips parents to make informed decisions. These decisions could relate to the course of the pregnancy, managing the potential condition, or preparing for the birth of a child with special needs.
  • Preparing for the Needs of a Child with Genetic Disorder/Conditions: When a genetic condition is detected, parents have the advantage of time to prepare for their child's specific needs. This includes researching the condition, understanding what care and interventions will be necessary, and even connecting with support groups and healthcare professionals specializing in the condition.

A genetic counselor plays a crucial role in highlighting the benefits of genetic testing. They offer peace of mind and preparedness to expectant parents, empowering them to welcome their new child with confidence and support.

Who Should Undergo Genetic Testing?

The choice to undergo genetic testing during pregnancy is a personal decision. If you are unsure, your provider at Advanced Women’s Care of Pittsburgh can help you with additional information and advice. Genetic screening is usually incorporated as a standard part of prenatal care for all expectant families.

Families may opt for diagnostic genetic testing during pregnancy for various reasons, such as:

  • Family or personal history of genetic conditions.
  • The mother is over the age of 35.
  • History of miscarriage or stillbirth.

How Long Does It Take To Get Genetic Test Results?

When anticipating the results of genetic testing, knowing the expected timeline can help manage anxiety and plan for the next steps. Results from genetic screening tests typically take several days to a few weeks to process. These tests are usually sent to specialized labs that analyze the genetic material. For diagnostic testing, such as amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling, the wait time can be similar, but occasionally it might extend to a few weeks, depending on the complexity of the analysis being conducted.

Your healthcare provider will be the first to receive these results once they are available. After reviewing the findings, they will schedule a consultation to discuss the results with you. This process ensures that any questions or concerns you might have can be addressed promptly and accurately, providing you with the support and information necessary to make informed decisions about your pregnancy.

Explore Your Genetic Testing Options Today

Embark on the path of genetic testing with confidence! Schedule a consultation at Advanced Women's Care of Pittsburgh today to uncover valuable insights for your family's future. Your journey toward well-informed decisions begins right here. Book an appointment now!

Important note: Patients are advised to contact Integrated Genetics (1-844-799-3243) prior to the day of blood work to determine the out-of-pocket cost instead of contacting their insurance provider.

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