Obstetrics care at Northwestern in Chicago may include specific DNA testing
Confirmation of a pregnancy can be extremely exciting. Learning that the pregnancy is considered “risky,” however, can cause parents-to-be stressed. At Northwestern Women’s Health Associates , we provide compassionate, skilled care that may include specific testing in certain situations.
When we may test for chromosomal abnormalities
Chromosomal abnormalities are not a concern that parents have any control over; they can neither cause them nor prevent them. At the same time, there are certain factors that have been identified as an increased risk. These include:
- Mother is aged 35 or older
- There is a family history of chromosomal abnormalities
- Evidence of potential chromosomal abnormalities have been identified on prenatal ultrasound
- The serum screening test returns an abnormal result
About chromosomal abnormalities
Chromosomes are present in every cell of the body, structures which hold our inherited genetic makeup. It is our chromosomes that dictate how we develop. In each set of chromosomes, of which most have 23, are thousands of genes.
Abnormalities occur when a baby is missing a chromosome or has an extra, known as trisomy. One of the most recognized trisomies is trisomy 21, or Down’s Syndrome. Other potential concerns include trisomy 18 and trisomy 13, both of which may produce a number of birth defects.
There are many women for whom advanced testing is a beneficial part of obstetrics care at Northwestern in Chicago. In the past, the standard of “looking a little deeper” was to gather necessary chromosomal data with invasive diagnostics such as amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling CVS. Today, we have the means to obtain chromosomal information via a simple blood test.
Patients of Northwestern Women’s Health Associates that are at high risk may start the discussion of potential risks with a cell free DNA such as the Maternity 21 blood test. With a small blood sample, we gain precise insight into select chromosome information in a short period of time and without the risks associated with more invasive diagnostic procedures. After the MaterniT21 blood test from your Chicago OBGYN, you will have results in about one week.
Cell free DNA testing evaluates the relative amount of fetal chromosome material present in the mother’s blood. In addition to gathering data regarding chromosomes 21, 18, 13, and sex chromosomes X and Y, your health care provider may request further information. The extent of data which can be gathered by the cell free DNA blood test exceeds what is possible with any other non-invasive method.
For women that are not at high risk, we offer the first trimester screen which includes an ultrasound of the baby’s neck and a blood test at 12 weeks and a quad-screen AFP test at 16 weeks. These are often combined into a sequential screen which has a higher sensitivity and lower false positive rate.
We believe in providing the best possible care to our OBGYN patients. Our use of advanced diagnostics is just one of many reasons why Northwestern Women’s Health Associates is chosen by women from the Chicago area and well beyond. To schedule your visit with an experienced physician, call 312-440-9400.