Noninvasive Prenatal Testing (NIPT)

Since announcing the gender of our babies to our family, friends, and on social media (video below!), several people have asked us how we knew the gender so early? We revealed at 15 weeks and 1 day. Usually the earliest that gender can be determined via ultrasound is 16 weeks, and many parents wait until their anatomy scans around 18-22 weeks. Well, our gender was not determined using an ultrasound, but rather with something called Noninvasive Prenatal Testing (NIPT).

NIPT is a simple blood screening, performed as early as 10 weeks gestation, which analyzes the fetal DNA in the mothers’ blood stream. Because our twins are identical, the test could be run the same as with a singleton pregnancy. I am not really sure how or if it would differ with fraternal twins. The test we chose is called the Progenity Verifi test, and it tests for chromosomal disorders such as Trisomy 21 (Downs Syndrome), Trisomy 18, Trisomy 13 and others. In addition to checking for these disorders, the test also looks for XX or XY (male or female pairs) so it can predict the sex of your baby! The Verifi test has a 99% accuracy rating. Similar tests include the Harmony Test, the NIFTY test, etc.

Our results came back normal and the office was able to give us an envelope with our gender results. I highly recommend NIPT for moms-to-be of any age. It provides peace of mind, and should the results come back with a chromosomal disorder, the parents will have ample time to prepare. For example, many may require special doctors on hand at time of delivery. Parents can join support groups and educate themselves on the condition so they better know what to expect. Whatever the parents decide to do with the information is their choice and theirs alone. Some prefer to pass on the genetic testing or screening, and that is their choice as well!

Other prenatal testing options include:

  • Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS) – This tests uses a biopsy of placenta cells to screen for disorders. This is usually done late in the first trimester, around weeks 10-12.
  • Quad Screening – Uses a maternal blood sample to screen for the following four substances: AFP, hCG, Estriol and Inhibin-A. They will use these results to estimate the chances of the baby having an abnormality. This test is usually performed in the second trimester, around weeks 15-22.
  • Amniocentesis – This is a procedure in which amniotic fluid is removed from the uterus for testing. This fluid contains fetal cells and chemicals produced by the baby. These cells and chemicals are analyzed to provide genetic and other information about the baby. This procedure is riskier than the others. Risks include leaking of amniotic fluid, miscarriage (a very small percentage, but a risk nonetheless), needle injury, Rh sensitization, infection, and the risk of transferring an infection to the fetus.

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