Noninvasive Prenatal Testing (NIPT): What You Need to Know

Medically Reviewed By: Cara Everett, MS, RDN, LDN
September 25th, 2023
Estimated Reading Time: 6 minutes

What Is NIPT?

Noninvasive prenatal testing (NIPT) is a type of screening tool that analyzes fragments of fetal DNA circulating in the mother’s blood to determine the risk of chromosomal abnormalities in the fetus. It may also be called noninvasive prenatal screening (NIPS). 1

While NIPT can’t provide a diagnosis, it can indicate your baby’s risk of developing certain genetic conditions. If a genetic abnormality is suspected based on NIPT results, your healthcare provider may order diagnostic testing such as amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling (CVS) for more information. 2

What Does NIPT Screen For?

While NIPT doesn’t test for all chromosomal conditions or birth disorders, most NIPT tests screen for:

  • Trisomy 21 (Down syndrome)
  • Trisomy 18 (Edwards syndrome)
  • Trisomy 13 (Patau syndrome)
  • A missing or extra X or Y chromosome

How Is NIPT Done?

By analyzing DNA in the mother’s blood, NIPT detects abnormalities in genetic fragments that could indicate an increased risk of one of the conditions above. Because both the baby’s and mother’s DNA are present in the blood sample, NIPT may also detect a genetic condition the mother didn’t know she had. It determines the baby’s gender as well, so if you don’t want to know that information, be sure to tell your healthcare provider ahead of time. 3

NIPT only requires a blood draw from the mother and poses no risk to the fetus. Because of this, NIPT is considered non-invasive, as opposed to invasive tests such as amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling (CVS), which require a sample of the amniotic fluid or placental tissue, respectively, and carry a small risk of miscarriage. 

Should I Have NIPT?

While NIPT is optional and can be done as early as 10 weeks into your pregnancy, your provider may recommend conducting for several reasons: 

  • An early ultrasound indicates your baby has an abnormality
  • You already have a child with a chromosomal defect
  • Another screening test shows there may be a problem with your baby

Is the Genate Test the Same as NIPT?

No, the Genate Test does not screen for the same things as NIPT. While both are important diagnostic tools, they serve different purposes. The Genate Test is intended to detect how an expectant mother metabolizes nutrients and to look for genetic differences that may affect her nutritional needs during pregnancy. Meanwhile, NIPT checks for the likelihood of genetic disorders. 

What Does the Genate Test Measure?

The Genate Test examines an expectant mother’s genetic information to provide personalized dietary and nutritional recommendations based on her genetic makeup. This test analyzes variations in genes related to metabolism and nutrient processing to offer tailored advice regarding diet and nutrient requirements, so that women can tailor a nutrition plan to their individual needs.

1. Nutrition

While proper prenatal nutrition can’t reverse a chromosomal abnormality, you can make sure to get the right amount of nutrients to support your growing baby. Genetic insights from your Genate Test can provide specific guidelines of what nutritional areas you need to address for your pregnancy.

2. DHA

DHA, or docosahexaenoic acid, is an omega-3 fatty acid that supports the development of your baby’s brain and eyes.. During pregnancy, women need 200 mg of DHA each day from dietary sources like salmon, mackerel, shrimp, tuna, and cod. 4

3. Choline

Adequate choline is critical for the development of your baby’s brain and nervous system, and may decrease the risk of neural tube defects. During pregnancy, you need 450 milligrams of choline each day from foods like meat, fish, eggs, dairy, and poultry. 5

4. Folate

Folic acid helps prevent spinal and neural tube defects. It will also help your placenta grow, which in turn nourishes your baby. Women who are thinking of becoming pregnant should start taking folic acid supplements to lower the risk of spinal and neural tube defects in their baby, which occur within the first few weeks of pregnancy.

Before you become pregnant, you should be getting 400 micrograms of folic acid each day. This will increase to 600 micrograms of folic acid each day once you’re pregnant. You can consume folic acid from prenatal vitamins or food sources such as fortified cereals, breads, pasta, green leafy vegetables, fruit, fruit juice, seafood, eggs, beans and nuts. 6

Getting Proper Nutrients

At times it can be difficult to meet all your nutrient requirements each day. It’s important to talk to your provider about taking the right prenatal supplement to meet your needs.

In addition to prenatal supplements, you may want to consider the Genate Test to determine if you have genetically-induced inefficiencies in the key nutrients your baby needs for proper growth and development. Your results will be outlined in the Genate Report, which provides recommendations in the event you need higher levels of any nutrients to meet your needs.

Noninvasive Prenatal Testing in Closing

SNP Therapeutics’ mission is to improve human health through precision nutrition. Led by Dr. Steven Zeisel, a leading physician and nutrigenetic expert, we’ve created the Genate Test to detect genetic variants that affect nutrition metabolism. 

By using the insights from the test and your report, you can make any needed adjustments to your diet and supplements for a healthy pregnancy. Our registered dietitians also offer nutrigenetic counseling to help you apply your results and create a nutrition plan that meets your unique needs.

To learn more about how your genes influence your prenatal nutrition needs, check out our blog.

This article is not intended as medical advice to treat or diagnose any health condition, but rather as educational health information for the general public. It should not be used as a substitute for individualized medical care from your healthcare provider. 

Sources

  1. What is noninvasive prenatal testing (NIPT), and what disorders can it screen for? MedlinePlus. https://medlineplus.gov/genetics/understanding/testing/nipt/ Published July 28, 2021. Accessed October 20, 2023.
  2. What noninvasive prenatal testing can (and can’t) tell you about your baby. UT Southwestern Medical Center. https://utswmed.org/medblog/prenatal-genetic-testing-nipt/ Published June 6, 2023. Accessed October 20, 2023.
  3. Harraway J. Non-invasive prenatal testing. Australian Family Physician. 2017;46(10):735-739. https://www.racgp.org.au/afp/2017/october/non-invasive-prenatal-testing/
  4. Zhiying Z, Fulgoni VL, Kris-Etherton PM, Mitsmeeser SH. Dietary intakes of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids among US childbearing-age and pregnant women: an analysis of NHANES 2001–2014. Nutrients. 2018;10(4):416. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu10040416
  5. Choline. National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Choline-HealthProfessional/ Updated June 2, 2022. Accessed October 20, 2023.
  6. Folate. National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Folate-HealthProfessional/ Updated November 6, 2022. Accessed October 20, 2023.

More Articles:

Benefits of DHA and Phosphatidylcholine in Pregnancy | Genate
Health Benefits of DHA and Phosphatidylcholine During Pregnancy Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and phosphatidylcholine are two nutrients with multiple benefits, including...
Are You Actually Pregnant? 5 Symptoms That Mimic Pregnancy
Are You Actually Pregnant? 5 Symptoms That Mimic Pregnancy By: Jordan Stachel, RDN Medically Reviewed By: Cara Everett, MS, RDN,...
The Benefits of Betaine for Your Pregnancy
The Benefits of Betaine for Your Pregnancy  Getting the right nutrition through food and supplements is critical for a healthy...

Take the Genate Test

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