How Early Can You Do a Harmony Test?

Keeping on top of your schedule can be a big part of pregnancy. You have all sorts of antenatal appointments, ultrasound scans, and developmental milestones on your mind. The good news about NIPT is that the tests are fairly easy to fit into your schedule as they don’t have to be performed at a certain time, unlike some other checks like the Nuchal Translucency Scan. However, the non-invasive prenatal tests won’t work right at the beginning of pregnancy. You can only have NIPT after 9 weeks.

What is the Harmony Test?

The Harmony test is one of the most well known types of non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT). It is a blood test that we can use to screen for certain chromosomal abnormalities that could be affecting your baby. All it takes is a small sample of your blood, so this is a very safe and simple way to get more information about your baby.

The Harmony test can tell you whether your baby is likely to be affected by one of the three most common chromosomal abnormalities: Down’s, Edward’s or Patau’s syndrome. We can also use it to check for sex chromosome conditions or to check your baby’s gender if you are at risk of sex-linked disorders.

Why Have the Test Early?

Screening tests are most useful when they are done early in your pregnancy. Although most parents will find that there is no sign of any abnormalities, it is important to consider what might happen if we do detect a problem. If the results reveal that your baby is likely to have a chromosomal abnormality then you may want to arrange another test to confirm the result. The only way to confirm your result is to have an invasive test such as CVS or amniocentesis.

Chorionic villus sampling (CVS) can be performed between 10 and 14 weeks. Amniocentesis is available between 15 and 20 weeks. It is therefore best to schedule your NIPT as soon as possible so that you’ll have time to confirm the results if necessary.

Another important point to consider when deciding when to have NIPT is that you will have more options earlier in the pregnancy. The decision you make after hearing the results will be very personal, but some of the chromosomal abnormalities we screen for are very serious or even fatal. You might therefore decide to end the pregnancy if your baby is diagnosed with them. You will have more options earlier in the pregnancy.

When deciding when to have NIPT it’s important to remember that it will usually take about 3-8 working days for the results to come back. In some cases, it could take longer.

When Can You Have the Harmony Test?

The Harmony test can be performed at any time after 10 weeks. You can count the weeks as starting on the first day of your last period or use the more accurate date from your first ultrasound scan, if you’ve already had it.

Other types of NIPT are also available. You can have:

  • The Panorama test from 9 weeks
  • SAFE test from 10 weeks

There are no upper time limits on any of these NIPTs, so you can have the test right up until the end of your pregnancy.

Should You Wait Until After the Nuchal Scan?

Although the Harmony test can be performed as early as 10 weeks, you might want to wait a little longer before deciding if NIPT is right for you. The results of the nuchal ultrasound can tell you if your baby is at higher or lower risk of the abnormalities we screen for during NIPT. If your baby is at low risk then you might decide that you don’t need to have another screening test. However, if the nuchal scan shows that your baby is at higher risk of abnormalities such as Down’s syndrome, it can be a good idea to arrange NIPT to confirm the result.

If you do want to wait for your ultrasound results before having NIPT then you won’t be able to have the Harmony test at 10 weeks. The nuchal translucency test that is used to screen for chromosomal abnormalities can only be performed between 11 weeks 5 days and 13 weeks 5 days. You’ll be told the results on the same day so you can arrange your NIPT appointment right away if your baby is at higher risk.

The results of your nuchal scan can help you to decide if NIPT is right for you, but you don’t have to wait for them to have the Harmony test. If you are concerned or you’re at higher risk due to being older parents, having previous pregnancies affected by chromosomal abnormalities or if you wish to have a test with higher accuracy then you might want to get the test as soon as possible.

If you do have the Harmony test before your nuchal scan then it’s a good idea to share the results with your doctor or sonographer, if they’re available. The scan can then focus more on other aspects of your baby’s health and development as the risk of chromosomal abnormalities will already be known.

What Happens If You Want to Have the Test Later?

The good thing about NIPT is that there is no deadline to have the test, other than the arrival of your baby. If you change your mind and decide that you want to have the Harmony test then you can arrange an appointment at any time in your pregnancy.

The only difference in having the test later is that there will be limitations on what you can do with the information. If you have your NIPT early enough then you will have the option of confirming the result with CVS or amniocentesis. It will also be possible to end the pregnancy if you feel it is the best decision for you and your family. However, having the test later can still be useful as the knowledge it provides can reassure you that your baby is at low risk or help you to prepare if a problem is detected.

When do you think is the best time to have the Harmony test?

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