Pregnancy is a magical and exciting time, but one that can be stressful, too. You may feel overwhelmed by just how much needs to be done in preparation for the birth while still juggling work and other commitments.
It’s totally normal to feel this way, and many expectant moms and couples also have concerns about the health of their baby or anxieties that their newborn may be affected by a genetic condition that’s present in another family member. Keep reading to find out when it’s important to consider getting a DNA test during pregnancy and the benefits that it can deliver.
Although it’s possible to collect a DNA sample from the fetus during pregnancy to determine paternity, it’s advisable, in the vast majority of cases, to test the baby after birth. This can be done painlessly and quickly using an at-home testing kit – have a look here for a My Heritage DNA review that will give you more details on this option. As well as being a discreet and convenient way to establish paternity, the results are usually delivered quickly – often in as little as seven days.
If, however, there are compelling reasons to consider an in utero DNA test regarding paternity, then this is possible, although it should be considered carefully as some types of tests entail the risk of miscarriage. Discuss this with your doctor for more information and to find out if it’s the right option for you.
Prenatal Screening for Specific Conditions
It’s also possible to test your baby’s DNA in the womb to discover the likelihood of their having a certain condition. This type of screening can usually be carried out from about ten weeks into the pregnancy and is done by drawing a sample of the mother’s blood. While other types of testing are offered as standard, choosing to pay privately for a DNA test offers much greater accuracy if you have concerns. The test is carried out by a medical professional, and the results are usually delivered within two weeks.
There are, however, ethical considerations around this type of in utero testing that you may wish to take carefully into account. For example, if parents aren’t given adequate support or information regarding the test and its implications, they may make a decision that’s less well-informed as it could be. It’s also important to give thought to the fact that in some countries, like Denmark and Iceland, where this type of testing in pregnancy is universal, the abortion rate where fetuses are found to have Down’s Syndrome is close to 100%.
On the other hand, it is vital for some parents to be aware of a condition that their unborn baby may be carrying so that they can make the preparations and get the support in place that will help them to manage the needs of their newborn when he or she comes into the world.
Boost Your Health During Pregnancy
Some companies offer at-home DNA testing specially designed to help you optimize your diet and fitness during pregnancy; this can be really useful to help you eat and exercise better and improve your general health and wellbeing.
A cheek swab test is used – this will be analyzed, and then you’ll be provided with information on how to up-level your diet to ensure you and your baby are getting the nutrition you need.
If you have a family member who has a genetic condition, then it may be wise to consider having a carrier screening DNA test during pregnancy to determine whether you carry the altered gene that could result in the condition manifesting in your baby.
Carrier tests are most often used to identify recessive disorders: typically, a child would need to inherit the altered gene from both parents to manifest the condition; if just one gene is inherited, then they are known as carriers. Typically, they either don’t have the disorder at all or present only very mild symptoms relating to it.
Testing is undertaken using a swab sample of cells collected from the inner cheek of the parent who is most likely to be the carrier first. If this test is negative, then there is no need to test the other parent. If, however, it is positive, then the other parent can be tested to determine whether the baby is likely to have the disorder or be a carrier of it.
Deciding Whether to Test
Ultimately, DNA testing during pregnancy is a very personal decision, and whether or not it is suitable will come down to the individual circumstances of each person considering it. What is most important is that you understand both the test and its implications fully before going ahead with it. Speak to a medical professional, and don’t be shy about asking as many questions as you need to to get the fullest picture possible of everything relating to the test – and its consequences.
Getting support is vital, both before and after the test, so be sure that you have this in place before proceeding – and, at this time, remember that self-care is more important than ever for you and your baby, so be extra kind to yourself.