Navigation Links
The Leading Edge Of Medical Innovation: New Prenatal Genetic Tests Use Mom's Blood To Learn About Her Baby

NEW YORK, Dec. 13, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- New prenatal tests can give some parents piece of mind – sooner and with greater accuracy and less risk of miscarriage than current tests – that the baby they're expecting doesn't have a disorder.

The new tests, which use fetal DNA suspended in the mother's blood, can test for chromosomal disorders such as Down syndrome (trisomy 21) and trisomy 18, and Rh blood incompatibility. They also can determine fetal gender, which allows health care providers to screen for disorders carried on the X chromosome, such as hemophilia.

These medical advances are raising questions that expecting parents may feel ill-equipped to answer. They also raise new concerns about the ability of the medical field to counsel new parents and explain what the tests can reasonably predict and what they can't.

Two experts will address these issues at a luncheon for reporters sponsored by the March of Dimes. Diana W. Bianchi, MD, executive director, Mother Infant Research Institute at Tufts Medical Center and a professor of pediatrics and obstetrics and gynecology at Tufts University School of Medicine, will explain what the cell-free DNA tests are, how they differ from existing prenatal screens and tests, as well as their effectiveness.  Lee P. Shulman, MD, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology and director of the Northwestern Ovarian Cancer Early Detection and Prevention Program at the Feinberg School of Medicine of Northwestern University, will focus on consumer education about cell-free fetal DNA tests and explore questions parents should ask before and after such testing.

During pregnancy, fetal cells and cell-free fetal genetic material circulate in the mother's bloodstream.  This DNA can be used to screen for certain genetic disorders without having to perform invasive procedures such as amniocentesis or CVS (chorionic villus sampling).

At present four widely used procedures assist health care providers in prenatal diagnosis. They are:

  • Amniocentesis: a procedure that collects some of the amniotic fluid that surrounds the fetus for analysis. This is a diagnostic test.
  • Chorionic villus sampling (CVS): a procedure that obtains tissue from around the placenta. This is a diagnostic test.
  • Maternal blood tests: screening tests that use mother's blood to help identify problems with the fetal brain, spinal cord, intestines or chromosomes. These tests include alpha-fetoprotein (AFP), hCG and other hormones. As with all forms of screening, abnormal results require follow-up testing to make a diagnosis.
  • Ultrasound: a scan using sound waves to visualize the fetus.
    Cell-free DNA methods of screening are a new option.

"Prenatal diagnosis gives parents important information about the health of their baby and the status of their pregnancy. More often than not, prenatal screening reassures parents that their baby is healthy and that these disorders are not present," says Joe Leigh Simpson, MD, March of Dimes senior vice president for Research and Global Programs.  "For a high-risk infant, prenatal diagnosis gives parents and health care providers options that may include planning for a health problem or arranging for delivery in a medically appropriate setting. The first step toward treating these problems is diagnosing them, and cell-free DNA methods, without the need for invasive measures, are welcomed."

Dr. Bianchi says, "This cell-free DNA blood test also has the potential to push beyond the boundaries of what is currently being screened for."

"The introduction of new prenatal screening tests that evaluate cell-free nucleic acids in maternal blood represents a profound improvement in our ability to identify women at increased risk for carrying fetuses with the most common chromosome abnormalities," Dr. Shulman says. "Still, this technology represents a limited screening protocol and should not serve as a substitute for diagnostic tests such as chorionic villus sampling and amniocentesis, which provide the most accurate and comprehensive assessment by the direct analysis of fetal tissue."

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American College of Medical Genetics recommend that information on prenatal genetic screening and diagnosis should be made available to all pregnant women and those considering pregnancy.

The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health.  With chapters nationwide and its premier event, March for Babies®, the March of Dimes works to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. For the latest resources and information, visit or

SOURCE March of Dimes
Copyright©2012 PR Newswire.
All rights reserved

Related biology technology :

1. Crisalix Awarded as a Leading Life Science Company that is Revolutionizing the Medical Industry
2. Speech and Language Therapy Jobs and Biomedical Science Jobs - Medicspro Leading the way for Medical Recruitment Agencies in the UK
3. Japan Bioinformatics Announces Study on Leading Mapping Tools for DNA Mutation Discovery
4. A leading Massachusetts-based IT and Life Sciences staffing and consulting firm has opened two new offices in the Ohio Valley
5. Maker of leading in-home HIV test encourages testing
6. Life Technologies New State-of-the-Art Manufacturing Facility in China Provides Forensics Labs Rapid Access to World-Leading DNA Testing Solutions
7. Leading India-USA based CRO Announces Data Management/EDC, Medical Writing Milestone
8. Dr. Michael Yaremchuk, Leading Performer of Custom-Designed Facial Implants, Pioneers Bespoke Plastic Surgery
9. Dyadic Demonstrates Industry-leading Biofuels Enzyme Performance
10. Tanke BioSciences To Host Leading Symposium On Food Safety, June 24-25
11. Biodetection 2012 Conference Brings Together Leading Organizations from Around the World to Address Challenges & Technology Advances in Detection and Identification of Biological Threats in Washington, DC from June 28-29, 2012
Post Your Comments:
(Date:12/1/2015)... , Dec. 2, 2015  Researchers using modern imaging techniques ... archaeological site were able to learn about the health conditions ... presented today at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society ... France , unearthed several grave sites dating ... --> France , unearthed several grave ...
(Date:12/1/2015)... ... December 01, 2015 , ... ... talks at SPIE Photonics Europe 2016, the premier research conference in Europe ... event will run 4-7 April 2016 in the Square Brussels Meeting Centre. ...
(Date:12/1/2015)... , December 1, 2015 ... a touch activated lancet that features Owen Mumford,s unique ... , booth 1403, Unistik® Touch is a touch activated ... --> Owen Mumford, a leading medical device ... of medical devices, available initially in the US before ...
(Date:12/1/2015)... , Dec. 1, 2015 Today the Allen ... Seattle,s South Lake Union neighborhood, ... of Mercer Street and Westlake Avenue North, the 270,000 ... Allen Institute for Brain Science and the Allen Institute ... philanthropist and founder of the Allen Institute. "We started ...
Breaking Biology Technology:
(Date:11/12/2015)...  A golden retriever that stayed healthy despite having ... provided a new lead for treating this muscle-wasting disorder, ... of MIT and Harvard and the University of São ... Cell, pinpoints a protective gene that boosts ... The Boston Children,s lab of Lou Kunkel , ...
(Date:11/10/2015)... Nov. 10, 2015  In this report, ... basis of product, type, application, disease indication, ... this report are consumables, services, software. The ... safety biomarkers, efficacy biomarkers, and validation biomarkers. ... are diagnostics development, drug discovery and development, ...
(Date:11/4/2015)... 4, 2015 --> ... published by Transparency Market Research "Home Security Solutions Market - ... 2015 - 2022", the global home security solutions market is expected ... 2022. The market is estimated to expand at a ... to 2022. Rising security needs among customers at homes, ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):