Testing baby’s DNA

Published: May. 23, 2016 at 12:02 PM EDT|Updated: May. 23, 2016 at 2:19 PM EDT
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(Source: Ivanhoe Newswire)
(Source: Ivanhoe Newswire)

TAMPA (Ivanhoe Newswire/WTVM) -- Recent statistics show a decline in pregnancy rates, but despite the drop there are more new tests and tips parents need to be aware of. Genetic testing can now be done earlier and is a lot more accurate. Some doctors say it is not just about testing your unborn baby's DNA, but your own as well.

The baby bump is just starting to show on pilates instructor Jeannie Abreu. At 35-years-old, she is in the high-risk category, but the result of a new prenatal test has her breathing easier.

Abreu says, "They came actually here to the studio. They drew my blood and we got the results back within seven days. Everything was fine. I'm low risk for everything."

While tests like an ultrasound are common today, the Abreu's opted for a relatively new screening method called Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing or NIPT.

Jill Hechtman, M.D., an OB/GYN at Tampa Obstetrics explains, "It's a blood test from the mother but it looks at cells from the pregnancy, whereas the serum screen looks at markers throughout the mother's blood."

The big appeal is that it can be done at just 9 or 10 weeks into pregnancy, instead of 16, and it is 99% accurate in predicting Down Syndrome. It is not the only test she recommends to her clients. A genetic test of both parents can be a good tool long before the woman becomes pregnant.

"Potentially, it could keep you from getting pregnant," Dr. Hechtman say. "You might go a different route or, if you have the information, it could help you prepare better for delivery and pregnancy."

Before getting pregnant, Abreau took a genetic test and learned she inherited a harmful gene mutation that gives her an 80 percent chance of developing breast cancer, and a 60 percent chance of getting ovarian cancer by the age of 50. That is why Abreu and her husband Roger decided not to wait any longer.

Abreu says, "I'm excited about being a mom, excited about Roger being able to be a father."

While the NIP test is 99 percent accurate some doctors stress that it only indicates a "risk" for genetic abnormalities, not that the child actually has the disorder. Doctors recommend following up with more testing because some studies show false positives happen with NIPT more than 50 percent of the time.

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