Expanding non-invasive prenatal testing beyond chromosomes 21, 18, 13, X and Y.

Non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) based on cell-free DNA in maternal plasma is being expanded to include additional chromosome abnormalities beyond those involving chromosomes 21, 18, 13, X and Y. Review of population cytogenetic data provides insight into the likely number of additional abnormalities detectable. Additional clinically significant and cytogenetically recognizable abnormalities are present in less than 0.1% of newborns but clinically significant, or potentially significant, sub-microscopic imbalances are expected to be present in 1.7%. Cytogenetic studies on chorionic villus samples suggests that after excluding abnormalities involving chromosomes 21, 18, 13, X and Y, approximately 0.6% of NIPT results may be positive for an unbalanced abnormality attributable to mosaicism but most of these will not be confirmed at amniocentesis or in newborns. NIPT has also been developed for specific microdeletion syndromes and initial experience is now available. Laboratory procedures such as deeper sequencing and additional data analytics are rapidly evolving but even with existing protocols, it is already clear that NIPT does not necessarily need to be limited to trisomies 21, 18, 13 and the sex-chromosome abnormalities. Patient educational materials and genetic counseling services need to be available for women offered expanded NIPT.

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