HUNTINGTON, W.Va (WOWK) – At a time when more and more families worry about the potential health complications for unborn children, there is a test that can help. It’s called a “cell-free DNA” screen and it’s a non-invasive test that checks for certain chromosomal abnormalities. The most common is down syndrome.
Dr. Ally Roy is a physician with Marshall University Obstetrics and Gynecology and she says the screening can prepare expecting mothers.
“Maybe you wouldn’t want to end the pregnancy but maybe you would want to prepare to have an infant that might require more needs,” Roy said.
Cell-free DNA screens are recommended for women who are at least ten weeks pregnant, are 35 or older, and/or have a family history of abnormalities.
“A screening test tells us a statistical risk of something,” Roy said. “So, a chance that they could have this abnormality.”
Dr. Roy says once patients know their results they can opt for additional testing and for counseling on the outcome of the test. She says they’re also better informed on the decision of whether to continue the pregnancy. Dr. Roy adds one result is clear, and that is what the test does not say.
“It does not tell us this baby definitely has this or definitely does not have this,” Roy said.
Cell-free DNA tests do not screen for all abnormalities, and a negative result does not mean that the pregnancy may not have additional problems.