Fetal DNA can be sampled from the maternal peripheral blood stream and used for genetic testing. Such a test can help establish the autoimmune diseases, hereditary illnesses and chromosomal abnormalities that the unborn child may have.
For non invasive fetal genetic testing, a very small sample is needed of the mother’s blood to decode the baby’s genetic code and determine with relative accuracy whether they will suffer.
What types of Genetic Abnormalities and Diseases can be diagnosed?
Types of invasive fetal DNA sampling methods
Most methods for taking blood samples from the womb are invasive. The two main methods known are:
Amniocentesis is a Transabdominal procedure which will need to be done by an obstetric surgeon. The surgeon will insert a needle into the womb through the abdomen. On the other hand, in chorionic villus sampling, the obstetric surgeon usually inserts a catheter through the vagina. In both cases, the procedure is guided by means of an ultrasound. Chorionic villus sampling can be carried out earlier on than Amniocentesis. CVS is classified as a type prenatal biopsy. Although it can diagnose several genetic defects, it cannot diagnose neural tube defects (NTDs) such as Spina Bifida.
Can a prenatal test tell me the sex of the baby?
Because of the risks and complexities of undergoing amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling, these tests are never used to determine the sex of the unborn baby. Moreover, the objective of these tests is not to tell you the sex of the child. There are a number of baby gender predictor guides available. Besides the dozens of sites online dedicated to providing instructions on how to carry out at home self made tests, any person with a background in science would encourage a gender predictor test that is DNA-Based. Other tests tend to have no scientific studies that can back them up and only provide correct results by hazarded chance. A DNA based boy or girl gender prediction test will provide sound results which can be fully relied up on.
The Risks of Amniocentesis and Chorionic Villus Biopsy
With both procedures there are certain risks as well as certain ethical implications, especially when these DNA sampling methods are used for paternity testing. This new method can also be a step closer to non invasive paternity testing. Prenatal testing for paternity still requires invasive procedures which have risks for both mother and unborn child.
Non Invasive Fetal Genetic testing
This new method is still not yet fully studied and implemented but it is a step closer to non-prenatal fetal genetic testing for hereditary illnesses. The interest in this research started in 1997 when scientists found out that the mother’s blood contains small quantities of the DNA from the baby inside her wound circulating in her veins. The DNA of the unborn child is found in fragments and the challenge for scientists’ lies in being able to separate these fragments from that of the mother’s blood. Non invasive fetal DNA sampling from maternal blood has however, successfully been used to determine countless cases of paternity before the birth of the child.
Non invasive genetic testing for diseases is still being researched and is a huge leap from invasive DNA tests such as amniocentesis and CVS. There will still, however, be some ethical, legal and social implications related to fetal genetic testing and prenatal tests in general.