BY KALISHA MENDONSA
For any mother-to-be, the health and condition of their child is of the utmost importance but there are many advanced screening techniques that can help to put the prospective parent at ease.
One of those tests is the Harmony Prenatal Test, offered by Dynacare.
This is a Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing (NIPT) that uses a standard blood test to screen for several genetic disorders.
The NIPT is able to screen for Down Syndrome (trisomy 21), Edward’s Syndrome (trisomy 21) and Patau Syndrome (trisomy 13). Currently, the test is being offered across Canada and Central Albertans would be able to access the test in Red Deer’s Dynacare centre.
“It’s basically a very sophisticated blood test. It doesn’t require a needle in the abdomen, or complicated ultrasounds – it’s a simple blood test that can get information from about 10 weeks in the pregnancy to about 25 weeks,” said Dr. Philip Wyatt, Toronto geneticist and medical consultant to Dynacare.
“This provides women and couples control over the information they can access about the pregnancy. What they do with that information remains between the mother and whoever they are involved with. It simply gives them the information.”
By comparison, amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling, two prenatal diagnostic tests commonly used to identify genetic conditions, require cell samples of the amniotic fluid or the placenta, obtained through a long needle guided by ultrasound.
Wyatt said this NIPT program has been studied at length, rigorously tested and is more convenient than other forms of screenings.
The convenience of the test is also a big factor, as the test only takes about 15 minutes and can be accessed in any Dynacare facility around Canada.
This test is also able to screen for genetic abnormalities, even if twins are expected or if fertility treatment has been used, including in-vitro fertilization.
It is covered by some health insurance companies, but if not covered, the test costs $495.
“In the last five or six years, technology has become much more sophisticated. We now realize – to many people’s surprise – that we can draw a woman’s blood, through her arm, and actually obtain material derived from the baby. We have a mechanism now that measures materials that are directly returned from the fetus, and this tells us more about the condition of that fetus. The technology continues to advance,” Wyatt said.
“I believe it is not my job to tell women what to do. It is to say, this is the information that allows you to make an independent decision about what is going on in the pregnancy. It allows parents the opportunity to be informed about the health and condition of their pregnancy.”
To learn more about the Harmony Prenatal Test, visit the Dynacare web site or speak with a doctor.