One of the biggest concerns that parents have during pregnancy is that their baby is safe and will be healthy. One of the most popular prenatal tests is the Harmony test which can help parents find out as much as possible early on in the pregnancy. So what is the Harmony prenatal test and what does it reveal about the health and wellbeing of your unborn baby?
What is the Harmony prenatal test?
The Harmony test is an non-invasive prenatal test (NIPT) that takes place during the first trimester, at around 10 weeks. A Harmony test poses no risk to the fetus or mum. While there’s always a risk that the test might show a false positive, it is a good addition to other testing.
The Harmony test takes the form of a blood test that can analyze cfDNA, which is DNA from the fetus that circulates within the mother’s bloodstream. It’s important to know that this test poses no risk to the fetus and can offer a detection rate of up to 99% for Down’s Syndrome, 97% detection for Edward’s Syndrome and 94% for Patau Syndrome.
Cell-free DNA (cfDNA) occurs because of the naturally occurring process of the fetal cells breaking down. The cfDNA is able to give the most accurate screening results to determine the likelihood that a fetus has a common chromosomal condition, called a trisomy. Some trisomies that can be identified with this test include:
Also known as Down, or Down’s Syndrome, this is the most common trisomy that occurs at the time of birth. This condition is associated with moderate to severe problems with intellectual abilities, in addition to other malformations such as congenital heart defects and digestive disease.
Edward’s Syndrome (Trisomy 18) and Patau Syndrome
These conditions are known for causing a high rate of miscarriage. Babies who have this condition are born with severe brain abnormalities in addition to various other birth defects. Most babies will pass away before or soon after birth, or within the first year of life.
Sex Chromosome Conditions
These are conditions that can occur when there is an incomplete copy of, a missing, or an extra sex chromosome.
While there’s always a risk that the test might show a false positive, it is a good addition to other testing.
At how many weeks do you take the Harmony test?
The test is typically taken after 10 weeks of pregnancy. If you aren’t sure how far along you are, your medical professional should be able to help. Harmony tests can be booked at NHS maternity hospitals in London or through a private midwife in London.
Why is the Harmony test important?
A Harmony test can help you find out early on in the pregnancy if the fetus has any particular serious conditions. Compared to conventional prenatal screening, this test is highly accurate. Conventional screenings typically only have between 70% and 80% accuracy when detecting Down Syndrome, while the Harmony test can detect over 99% of cases. They also have a less than a 0.1% false positive rate versus the 5% false positive rate found in conventional screening.
The Harmony prenatal test is more accurate than conventional testing and poses no risk to the fetus or mother. Secondly, it is also less invasive than other testing such as Amniocentesis and CVS (Chorionic Villus Sampling), which can potentially pose some risks to you and the fetus.
In addition, the Harmony test can also reveal your baby’s gender, without your having to wait for a sonogram.
Who can get the Harmony test?
The Harmony test is suitable for a wide range of pregnancies. It is highly accurate and can offer the expectant mother a high degree of reassurance, particularly if you are having a child later in life or undergoing IVF.
The test is equally suitable for women pregnant with one, or multiple babies, whether conceived naturally, through IVF or IUI treatments.
What happens if you get a high-risk result?
It’s normal to feel overwhelmed if you have a high-risk result. But it’s important to avoid panicking and seek proper advice and support. The results don’t necessarily mean that the fetus has these conditions, so the next step would be to move onto additional testing. If additional tests show a combined risk, then more invasive testing like CVS or amniocentesis may be required. These tests are highly accurate and can diagnose any other potential genetic conditions that your child may have.
Your medical professional such as a private midwife can help you determine the best course of action to take.
Patients are encouraged to consider getting this testing done for their own peace of mind.