Prenatal DNA TestingThere are big changes happening in the world of genetic testing. Prenatal tests are already in development that uses maternal blood samples to test for fetal birth defects, but these tests are just the tip of the iceberg. According to a study published in the journal Nature, mom’s blood may hold the key to DNA and genetic testing. This study could be the first step in making genetic testing a part of prenatal care for all women – not just women who know they have genetic risk factors that could affect their child later in life.

The Immediately Use of Maternal Fetal DNA Testing

While there is a long list of possible uses for genetic testing on an unborn child, it is the recognition of conditions that can be treated prior to delivery or soon after delivery that are on the forefront of doctor’s minds. Currently, some genetic conditions are not diagnosed until symptoms appear and that could mean the disease has progressed significantly. With fetal DNA testing, the condition could be diagnosed during pregnancy and treatments immediately started after birth. The impact could lengthen lifespan for some infants or even save lives in some cases.

Other Studies Found the Same DNA
This is not the first study reporting fetal DNA sequenced from mom’s blood. Another study completed by researchers at the University of Washington used maternal and paternal DNA and maternal blood for the genome sequence.

There are currently tests available to test for genetic conditions, but these tests are invasive and increase the risk of miscarriage. The idea is to find a test that is both non-invasive and accurate and that’s what researchers are reporting. Researchers are extremely excited about the current advances in fetal genetic testing, but they know they have a long way to go. Not too long ago, reports were published revealing a non-invasive test that reported whether or not the fetus had too many or too few chromosomes – that was the first step that lead to current studies and these studies are just another step to something far bigger.

This report is based on animal studies, but human studies are currently underway and testing is currently available. Researchers and developers are fine tuning the tests to increase accuracy and eventually reduce the number of invasive prenatal tests suggested for women during pregnancy.

Source: Nature. July 11, 2012.