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How Long Does It Take to Get NIPT Test Results?

You can have NIPT from 10 weeks into your pregnancy, but how long will you have to wait to get your results?


What is NIPT?

Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing or NIPT is a special type of blood test that you can have while you are pregnant. The test can screen for certain kinds of genetic abnormalities that might be affecting your baby. The three main abnormalities that are screened for during NIPT are Down’s syndrome, Edward’s syndrome and Patau’s syndrome. Different types of NIPT may screen for different abnormalities, so it’s important to compare the options so you can have the most appropriate test.

The test works by detecting fragments of placental DNA that are circulating in your blood. The placenta is genetically identical to your baby as both are formed from the same fertilised egg. It’s possible to tell which chromosome each fragment of DNA comes from. If there is more material that expected from a particular chromosome, then it means that there is likely to be an extra copy of that chromosome.

We usually have 23 pairs of chromosomes, but sometimes there can be an extra copy of one of these chromosomes. When this happens, it can cause abnormalities such as Down’s syndrome. By checking for extra copies of the chromosomes, NIPT can accurately detect which babies are likely to have these abnormalities. The detection rate for Down’s, Edward’s and Patau’s syndromes are all more than 99%. This means that the tests will be able to identify more than 99% of babies who are affected by these conditions.

Why Do I Have to Wait for NIPT Results?

When we perform an ultrasound scan, we’ll usually be able to provide the results right away. We can tell you how much your baby has grown, whether you’re expecting a boy or girl, and if there is anything else you need to know. However, some tests can take a little bit longer. Sometimes this is because the test will screen for additional conditions, but it can also happen if there are any issues with your sample.

If you are having NIPT then you will need to come in to the clinic to provide a blood sample. It’s just like having any other blood test, so you’ll probably be familiar with the procedure. We’ll perform an ultrasound scan at the same time as your NIPT blood test, so we’ll be able to give you some information about your baby right away. However, the NIPT results won’t be available immediately.

As soon as we have your blood sample, we’ll send it to the lab to be tested. The lab will work hard to get your results back as soon as possible, but it will take time to process and analyse the sample.

In order to get your results, it will be necessary to:

  • Extract all the fragments of DNA from the blood sample
  • Find out the sequence of each of the DNA fragments
  • Check which chromosome each fragment belongs to by comparing the DNA sequences
  • Some types of NIPT can also look for specific genetic markers that are linked to health problems
  • NIPT testAnalyse the results to see if there are any abnormalities

How Long Will It Take?

The results of NIPT can be back in as little as three days, but it can take up to two weeks in some cases. The time it takes can depend on many things, including how much DNA was collected from your blood sample and the number of different issues that the test is screening for.

Generally, you should expect to get the results back within about:

  • 3-7 days for the Harmony test
  • 3-7 days for SAE NIPT
  • 9-14 days for the Panorama Test

The Panorama test takes a little longer, but it can test for abnormalities that aren’t detected by the other types of NIPT. You should ask your doctor for advice on which test is right for you. It might be better to wait a bit longer for the Panorama test results if you need the extra information that it can provide. However, one of the faster NIPT tests could be a better choice if you are only interested in screening for Down’s, Patau’s and Edward’s syndromes.

Most people should get their results back within the expected time, but there is a small chance that the test might need to be re-done. For example, if the lab isn’t able to collect enough DNA from your sample, you might need to give a new one. In some cases, it might be possible to perform the test, but it could take a little longer than expected to get the results. However, most people should hear back in about 3-8 days.

Getting Your Results

When you get the results back, they will tell you if your baby is a higher or lower risk of each of the conditions that we screened for. In most cases, the results will confirm that your baby is at low risk. However, there is a chance that the test could reveal that your baby is at high risk of a particular condition.

If you get a high risk result then it’s important to talk to one of our consultants or to another doctor about what it means. The NIPT results can tell you if your baby is likely to be affected by a specific condition. A doctor can explain how this condition might affect your baby. You may also want to arrange a diagnostic test such as amniocentesis to confirm the result.

Although NIPT can’t give you instant results, it can still give you some important information about your baby’s health. Waiting to get the results can be worrying, but you can always talk to your doctor if you are concerned and you shouldn’t have to wait too long. It’s also important to remember that most people will get low risk results.

Do you have any tips to help others who are waiting for their test results?

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