Posted on | March 5, 2012 | Comments Off
Parental genetic testing, a term rather unheard in earlier days, is very much common practice these days. As majority of women are taking their first step towards parenthood after the age of 35, genetic testing is increasingly gaining popularity.
Need to go in for parental genetic testing
Prior to the age of 35, a woman has minimal chances of having a child with Down’s syndrome. At 35, the risk level increases and there is a probability of the woman having a complicated pregnancy. Prenatal testing in pregnancy becomes very important after 35. Beyond 35, the risk of having this chromosomal abnormality increases drastically, prompting the doctors to suggest that a woman should undergo parental genetic testing, in case they are planning to go for motherhood.
The most prevalent method used for undergoing genetic testing is amniocentesis. This is performed between 16th and 18th month of pregnancy. Chorionic villus sampling that offers earlier detection of chromosomal abnormalities (between 10th and 12th week of pregnancy), is the other method in use. Chorionic villus sampling has a disadvantage when compared to amniocentesis in that it cannot be used to diagnose Neural Tube Defects or NTDs.
Non invasive prenatal sampling methods are currently being researched. Scientists have managed to analyse fetal DNA in a maternal blood sample and from this they have successfully mapped the genetic profile of the unborn child and determine any autoimmune conditions. The test is still not available on the market although non invasive prenatal testing can be used to establish paternity.
Prenatal Genetic Screening and Psychological factors involved
As per a study conducted, the reasons for going in for genetic testing were psychological for most of the women. In case a woman is told following amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling the expected child is to suffer from Down’s syndrome, some women may choose to terminate the pregnancy before the 12th week. Carrying out prenatal genetic testing does raise certain ethical issues.