Why should I screen before choosing a prenatal?

March 13, 2023

Use your genetics to personalize your nutrition during pregnancy

If you are pregnant or trying to conceive, your doctor probably told you to take prenatal vitamins. These one-size-fits-all vitamins have many of the vitamins and minerals you need, along with hormones such as estrogen, to grow a healthy baby. However, studies show that 70% of people have at least one genetic variant that could affect how the nutrients they eat get passed on to their babies. Therefore, instead of taking a general prenatal vitamin, take a DNA nutrition test to learn the best balance of vitamins, minerals, and other essential compounds that will provide optimal fetal growth and cognitive development for your baby.

You can use genetic testing, such as the Genate Test, to examine how genetics contribute to potential nutritional deficiencies that affect your baby’s growth and cognitive development. You can then work with a nutrition counselor to create a customized diet and supplement plan that fulfills all your baby’s nutritional needs.

Prenatal vitamins

During your preconception or early prenatal appointments, your doctor or midwife will recommend that you take a prenatal vitamin. Most prenatal vitamins contain a combination of vitamins and minerals essential for healthy development. However, common over-the-counter prenatal vitamins do not account for your unique genetic differences in how your body uses vitamins and minerals.

Key vitamins and minerals in pregnancy

Choline is a critical nutrient that plays a role in many biological processes, such as cholesterol synthesis, muscle contraction, and cognitive development. In a developing baby, choline is necessary for cell division and brain, spinal cord, and nervous system development. Variance in choline synthesis genes changes the amount of choline available to your baby during pregnancy, leading to the possibility of developing neural tube defects. Genetic testing will tell you if you have a choline synthesis gene variant and provide information on changing your diet and supplements to lessen its impact on your developing baby.  

DHA is an essential fat that supports the growth of a developing baby’s brain, eyes, and immune function. Studies show that DHA should be taken during all trimesters of pregnancy for the most benefit. Some women have a variant gene that reduces how much DHA is synthesized. Get genetic testing before conception to determine if you need to add more DHA to reach the levels required for your baby to develop appropriately.

Folic acid, also known as vitamin B9, is a vitamin that prevents congenital disabilities of the brain and spine called spina bifida. Studies show that up to 30% of people have genetic variants in a protein involved in turning folic acid into its active form that can be used by your body to prevent neural tube defects. Therefore, genetic testing of genes involved in folic acid metabolism can tell you if you need to take more folic acid than is typically recommended. Early detection of genetic variants in folic acid pathways is essential because the neural tube is formed in the first trimester. Folic acid is also associated with the DNA methylation process, and alterations in this process have been associated with a range of maternal conditions during pregnancy, including preeclampsia, hypertension, diabetes, and pregnancy loss.

When is the best time to get nutri-genetic screening?

The best time to get a DNA nutrition test is before trying to conceive or early in the first trimester of pregnancy. This way, you will be armed with information on the best diet and supplement regimen for your unique genetic profile. This is especially true if you have variants in your folic acid pathways because neural tube defects occur in the first trimester.

The Genate Test

Using a prenatal genetic nutrition test, we help expectant mothers understand how their diet and genetics impact their developing baby. The Genate Test focuses on five metabolic pathways and 317 genetic variants to determine how your unique genetic profile can cause nutrient deficiencies essential for fetal growth and cognitive development. With the test results and nutrition counseling, you can customize your diet and supplement intake to optimize fetal growth and your baby’s mental development.


American Pregnancy Association. (2022, December 29). Prenatal Vitamins. https://americanpregnancy.org/healthy-pregnancy/pregnancy-health-wellness/prenatal-vitamins/

Bhogal, R. (n.d.). How to Avoid a Folic Acid Deficiency During Pregnancy. https://blog.davincilabs.com/blog/how-to-avoid-a-folic-acid-deficiency-during-pregnancy

Coletta, J., Bell, S. J., & Roman, A. S. (2010). Omega-3 Fatty acids and pregnancy. Reviews in Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Dias, S., Willmer, T., Adam, S., & Pheiffer, C. (2022). The role of maternal DNA methylation in pregnancies complicated by gestational diabetes. Frontiers in Clinical Diabetes and Healthcare, 3. https://doi.org/10.3389/fcdhc.2022.982665

Korsmo, H. W., Jiang, X., & Caudill, M. A. (2019). Choline: Exploring the Growing Science on Its Benefits for Moms and Babies. Nutrients, 11(8), 1823. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11081823

New Study Highlights Impact of Fads Polymorphisms on DHA and ARA Levels in Infants. (n.d.). @Human-nutrition. https://www.dsm.com/human-nutrition/en/talking-nutrition/impact-of-fads-polymorphisms.html

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Take the Genate Test

Learn how to tailor your pregnancy nutrition to your unique genetic signature.