NIPT will give results about the chance of your baby having either Down’s syndrome, Edwards’ syndrome or Patau’s syndrome. You cannot choose to be screened for Down’s syndrome only or Edwards’ syndrome and Patau’s syndrome only, like in earlier screening.
During pregnancy the placenta releases some of its DNA into your bloodstream, so your blood has both your DNA and some from the placenta.
This is what NIPT measures.
If NIPT finds more DNA than expected for chromosomes 21, 18 or 13 in your blood it could mean that your baby has Down’s syndrome, Edward’s syndrome or Patau’s syndrome.
NIPT will not be used to find other health conditions or the gender of your baby, as part of NHS Scotland’s pregnancy screening programme.
Should I have NIPT?
If you don’t want to go straight to having a diagnostic test, your NIPT result may help you to decide whether to have one or not. It can also help you prepare for the arrival of a baby who may need additional care and support.
NIPT is not suitable for everyone
Your midwife will explain to you if there’s a reason you cannot have NIPT, for example if you’ve had a recent blood transfusion, cancer or have a condition that involves chromosomes 21, 18 or 13.
What result could I get?
Most women who have NIPT will receive a low-chance result. This means it’s unlikely your baby has Down’s syndrome, Edwards’ syndrome or Patau’s syndrome. If you get this result, you’ll not be offered any further tests for these conditions.
There is a small chance that you may receive a low-chance result and your baby does have one of the conditions. This is known as a false negative.
If you get a high-chance NIPT result, it does not mean your baby definitely has Down’s syndrome, Edwards’ syndrome or Patau’s syndrome but it’s very likely.
You’ll be offered diagnostic testing which can tell you for definite. Whatever you choose, health professionals will give you information and support.
There is a small chance that you may receive a high-chance result and your baby does not have one of the conditions. This is known as a false positive.
NIPT can sometimes give no result if there’s not enough DNA in the blood sample or if there’s been a technical issue with the testing.
If you don’t get a result you can choose to have a repeat NIPT, go straight to diagnostic testing or have no further tests.