Non invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) enables parents to get more information about their unborn baby’s health without needing to have an invasive and risky test such as amniocentesis. However, the introduction of NIPT has sometimes raised concerns over how this information is used.
How NIPT is Used
The main reason why non invasive prenatal testing is contentious is the same as the concerns over amniocentesis and CVS. All of these tests can provide knowledge that may lead parents to choose to end the pregnancy. It is true that some parents will make this choice, particularly when the results reveal a fatal abnormality. However, the introduction of NIPT will not change the availability of this information or the way it is used. NIPT simply reduces the number of people who have invasive tests. It provides an additional screening step alongside the nuchal scan that will determine who should go on to have further checks. The results will always be confirmed by amniocentesis or CVS before any action is taken. Providing a safer test for chromosomal abnormalities will simply make it easier for parents to get the information they need without the risk of infection or miscarriage.
Potential for Misuse of NIPT
However, there are also some legitimate concerns about the way non invasive prenatal testing could be abused, for example in areas where there is strong cultural pressure to have sons rather than daughters. The test could be used to determine a child’s gender much earlier than is possible with ultrasound, which could increase the risk of selective abortion. Although this issue doesn’t affect many people in the UK, it is important to be aware of how medical tests like NIPT might be misused. In order to use the information provided by NIPT wisely, it is essential for parents to receive the right advice and guidance from their doctors