All About Noninvasive Prenatal Screening (NIPS) During Pregnancy

By on November 14, 2022

During pregnancy, there are an array of prenatal tests that can help to determine vital information regarding the fetus and the pregnancy. One of these tests is called noninvasive prenatal screening (NIPS). NIPS can be done as early as 10 weeks of pregnancy all the way through delivery. It is typically not done earlier than 10 weeks; however, there are some laboratories that will run the test as early as 9 weeks.  There is an increased risk of not enough fetal DNA (aka low fetal fraction) in the maternal blood if the test is done prior to 10 weeks.

Healthcare providers may recommend NIPS for women as a routine screening test for Down Syndrome and other chromosomal abnormalities.  Additionally, NIPS may be offered as a screening test to women who have had a prior pregnancy affected by Down Syndrome and similar chromosomal abnormalities, have had an ultrasound that shows that the fetus may have an abnormality, or have had a previous screening test that suggests a potential issue. Read on to learn more about NIPS and how it may be beneficial during your pregnancy.

What is NIPS?

NIPS is a way to determine the risk that the fetus will be born with certain genetic abnormalities. Through a blood draw, it analyzes small pieces of DNA that are free-floating within a pregnant woman’s blood also known as cell-free DNA (cfDNA).

During pregnancy, the mother’s bloodstream will contain a mix of cfDNA that comes from her cells and cells from the placenta. The DNA in placental cells is usually identical to the DNA of the fetus. Analyzing the cfDNA from the placenta provides doctors an opportunity to detect certain genetic abnormalities early on without harming the fetus.

This test is often used to look for chromosomal disorders that are caused by the presence of an extra or missing copy of a chromosome, including Down syndrome, trisomy 18, trisomy 13, and extra or missing copies of the X and Y chromosomes.

The Benefits of Non-Invasive Prenatal Screening

NIPS is considered a non-invasive test because it requires drawing blood from the pregnant woman only and does not risk harming the fetus. It is important to understand that, because NIPS is a screening test, it will not provide a definitive answer about whether or not your baby has a genetic condition. It can only estimate whether the risk of having a condition is increased or decreased. However, because NIPS analyzes both fetal and maternal cfDNA, it may rarely detect a genetic condition in the mother as well.

NIPS and Planning Pregnancy Care

While NIPS is not a replacement for other monitoring and diagnosing testing, it is a great additional testing technique that can complement ultrasound. Giving mothers and doctors information regarding chromosomal conditions, NIPS allows for important decision-making regarding possible invasive diagnostic testing.

The key to a healthy pregnancy is early and consistent treatment, including prenatal screening or testing. Contact MFM Associates in New York City today to learn more about NIPS and to learn more about how we can help you create an effective prenatal care plan.

Maternal Fetal Medicine blogs are intended for educational purposes only and do not replace certified professional care. Medical conditions vary and change frequently. Please ask your doctor any questions you may have regarding your condition to receive a proper diagnosis or risk analysis. Thank you!