All the Info You Need About NIPT Testing

Team Peanut
Team Peanut7 months ago6 min read

From the moment you find out you’re pregnant, you might become immediately curious about who this tiny being is that is growing inside you.

NIPT Testing

Now, with advancements in genetic study, we are able to gain more insight about this than ever before. NIPT testing is one method that can help us do this.

So what is NIPT testing exactly? And is it a good idea to have this test done?

While there’s no one answer that will suit everyone, being armed with the info can help you make the right choice for you.

In this article: 📝

  • What is NIPT testing in pregnancy?
  • What does the NIPT test tell you?
  • What does the NIPT test for?
  • When should I take the NIPT test?
  • Does the NIPT test show gender?
  • NIPS testing cost — how much?

What is NIPT testing in pregnancy?

The NIPT test stands for non-invasive prenatal testing.

(So actually, we tend to pop an extra “testing” onto the end when we say NIPT testing. But you get the picture.)

NIPT is genetic testing that looks for chromosomal conditions that can give you insight into any health issues your baby could possibly have.

Some fast facts?

NIPT screening is:

  • An option from early in your pregnancy.
  • A blood test. That means it poses no real risk for you or your baby.
  • Elective. You can choose whether or not you want to have it.

It’s important to know that NIPT is a screening rather than a diagnostic test.

This means it will not diagnose a specific condition, but it can tell you how high or low your baby’s risk is of developing it.

This can give you information on whether to conduct diagnostic tests like chorionic villus sampling (CVS) or amniocentesis.

These diagnostic tests analyze your baby’s DNA rather than yours.

That means a sample needs to be taken from the amniotic fluid or placenta.

Because these tests use your baby’s actual genetic material, they can give more precise info.

The good news is, CVS and amniocentesis carry a lower risk than was previously thought.

That being said, they are considered “invasive procedures” so risks do exist.

What does the NIPT test tell you?

Chromosomes are strands of DNA that live inside most of the cells in your body.

Inside your chromosomes are your genes — key instructions that are passed down from one generation to another.

These instructions have a hand in everything from your eye color to your potential for musical ability.

And yes, they can tell you about genetic conditions that could be passed down to your baby.

Everyone has a unique chromosomal make-up. In most cases, babies have a total of 46 chromosomes — 23 inherited from one side and 23 from the other.

Sometimes, missing or extra chromosomes can lead to major health challenges.

The NIPT uses your blood to screen your baby to see if they have any risks of developing serious conditions.

What does the NIPT test for?

The most common things these tests are screening for include:

  • Down syndrome. This genetic anomaly is called trisomy 21 and is the most common chromosomal irregularity in humans. It’s basically a genetic condition caused by having an extra chromosome (Chromosome 21). It affects about 5,000 babies born in the United States every year.
  • Edwards syndrome. Also called trisomy 18, this chromosomal condition comes from having an extra Chromosome 18. It results in babies born being very small with heart and lung conditions and intellectual challenges.
  • Patau syndrome. An extra chromosome 13 is responsible for this one, and that’s why it’s called trisomy 13. It’s a very serious condition that can cause pregnancy loss or the death of a baby when they are very young. Only five to ten percent of babies with this condition live past their first year.

Of course, deciding whether you want to find this information is a big deal. Know that there’s no “right” answer here. You do what feels right for you.

When should I take the NIPT test?

So when is NIPT testing done?

It can be done very early in your pregnancy — sometimes as soon as nine weeks. Your healthcare provider may bring it up with you at your first appointment.

Once the test is done, the lab will usually send your results to your doctor within a few days. If anything shows up, you can decide from there if you’d like to proceed with further tests.

Does the NIPT test show gender?

No — but it can show sex.

Sex is a label you’re assigned based on what genitals and chromosomes you have.

Gender is a more complex idea that has to do with social and societal expectations, behaviors, and thoughts.

Gender identity is how you feel on the inside.

So, the bottom line? Because it is a test of your DNA material, NIPT can show sex.

You may have to wait a little longer to find out about your baby’s gender.

(And of course, if you want to do the NIIT for screening purposes but are not keen to know their sex, let your doctor know. You only have to get the info you want to get.)

NIPS testing cost — how much?

If you don’t have health insurance, most NIPTs come with a cost between $99 and $400, depending on where you have it done.

Insurance might cover testing if your baby is at higher risk for developing specific conditions.

And some insurance policies pay for this testing regardless of risk.

These are all big decisions to make.

If you want to learn about the experience of other mamas, or simply chat to people who know where you’re at, join us on Peanut.

Let’s have the conversation.

💡 More from The 411:
What to Expect at Your 7 Week Ultrasound
8-Week Ultrasound: What to Expect
What to Expect at Your 20 Week Ultrasound
30 Week Ultrasound: What to Expect
40 Week Ultrasound: Key Facts
What is a Glucose Test During Pregnancy?
Can You Take a Paternity Test While Pregnant?
Can You Do a DNA Test While Pregnant?

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