First trimester genetic screening available with blood test

While genetic testing isn’t always required during pregnancy, it’s something nearly every woman is offered by their doctors and considers during their first trimester. And just in the past few years, there have been dramatic updates and improvements to the first trimester screening process.

The new Panorama genetic test, created by Natera, is considered the most accurate and comprehensive noninvasive screening test to date. Research shows it is more than 99 percent accurate for most screens, including for Down syndrome, and is done with a simple blood draw.

According to Todd Sloan, senior director of marketing at Natera, Panorama identifies the most common chromosomal anomalies as early as nine weeks of gestation.

At just nine weeks into the pregnancy, some of the DNA from the baby crosses into the mom’s bloodstream and that DNA contains the chromosomes that carry the baby’s genetic information. So a simple blood sample from the mother allows doctors to check for certain chromosomal conditions that could affect the baby’s health.

The test looks specifically for the chromosomes responsible for Down syndrome, Edwards syndrome, Patau syndrome and certain sex chromosome trisomies. It also allows parents to find out the gender of their baby if they decide to.

Katie Thomas, a Glenview mother of two, was able to experience the advances in genetic testing between her first and second pregnancy.

“The Panorama blood test was more informative and detail-oriented than the previous nuclear ultrasound that I took for my first pregnancy,” says Thomas. “For the Panorama test, I had a specialized medical professional review the results with me with more detailed information, as opposed to the nuclear ultrasound where the results were sparse and more focused on broad percentage ranges.”

While genetic testing remains a very personal decision, the Panorama test gives moms an option that doesn’t come with a risk of miscarriage.

“Expecting parents deserve the reassurance that comes from having the most accurate and comprehensive genetic information available,” Sloan says.

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