The Harmony test is one of the options for NIPT at The Birth Company. We also provide the Panorama and SAFE tests. All three types of NIPT work in the same way. Here is a simple guide to help you to understand how these types of screening tests are performed.
It’s important to understand what NIPT involves, what the results could reveal, and which type of NIPT is right for you before you have the Harmony test, Panorama test or SAFE test during pregnancy. You should learn more about the options and talk to one of our experienced team members so that you can make informed choices.
The Harmony test is a blood test. Two small sample tubes of blood will be filled from a blood vessel, usually near your inner elbow. The samples will then be sent straight to the genetics lab for testing.
When the blood sample arrives at the lab, it will be processed to extract the fragments of cell free DNA. Cell free DNA is present in everyone’s blood, but when you are pregnant some of this DNA comes from the placenta (which is genetically identical to your baby).
The cell free DNA will be taken out of the blood sample and examined using the latest techniques. The most important part of the process is identifying which chromosome each of the DNA fragments belong too. We usually have 23 pairs of chromosomes, which are referred to by a number from 1-22 or as the X and Y (sex) chromosomes. However, in some cases when a sperm or egg cell is produced. If these cells form an embryo, this can cause conditions such as Down’s syndrome, Edward’s syndrome and Patau’s syndrome.
The results will be carefully analysed to see if your baby is carrying an extra copy of a particular chromosome. By comparing the amounts of DNA fragments from different pairs of chromosomes, it is possible to tell if there are more than expected from a particular chromosome. For example, if there are a lot more fragments from chromosome 21 than from the other chromosomes, this indicates that the baby is likely to be carrying an extra copy of this chromosome and therefore is at higher probability of Down’s syndrome.
It usually takes between 3 to 10 days to get your Harmony test results back. The results will tell you if your baby is at higher or lower probability of each of the conditions that were screened for. If all our test results are low probability, then your baby is very unlikely to be affected. However, if you receive a high probability result for any of the conditions then it is important to talk to a doctor or genetic counsellor. You may want to arrange further, invasive tests to confirm the diagnosis.
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