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Published on Jul 21, 2013
Looking at Kerri Black, you might be surprised to learn she's pregnant. This excited mom is barely showing but she already knows quite a lot about her unborn baby.
"There's an exciting new test; they described it as a baby DNA test that I could get done pretty early," says Black.
"It's called MaterniT21 and basically it's a new genetic test specifically for trisomy 21, trisomy 18, and trisomy 13," says Dr. Melissa Lee, obstetrician with Lee Memorial Health System.
Performed as a simple blood test, this cutting edge method tests the fetal cells circulating in mom's blood.
"And they actually are able to amplify the fetal DNA to figure out if the correct number of chromosomes are there. More invasive testing such as amniocentesis have a higher risk of miscarriage, even if the risk overall is low," says Dr. Lee.
Unlike earlier tests, this one can be done as early as 10 weeks, when the fetus is a little more than an inch long. The primary purpose is to look for abnormalities in three major chromosomes: 13, 18 and 21. But it also lets the mother know the sex of her baby months earlier than an ultrasound.
"We don't want to know, we just want to be surprised - my husband and I both think there's not many surprises in life anymore," says Black.
But Black didn't want to be surprised by any of the genetic birth defects MaterniT21 screens. Because she's 35 years old, she faces a higher risk of carrying a child with Down's Syndrome.
"If there was any potential issues, I would like to do research into that; into some of the ways I could help my baby if they were born with any of those," says Black.
"As the population ages and as our ability to get pregnant later in life also occurs, the risk for genetic anomalies does increase. So this test is offered, it's up to the patients whether it's something they want or not," says Lee.
Everything came out perfect for Black and her husband. The only question now is pink or blue.
View More Health Matters video segments at leememorial.org/healthmatters/
Lee Memorial Health System in Fort Myers, FL is the largest network of medical care facilities in Southwest Florida and is highly respected for its expertise, innovation and quality of care. For nearly a century, we've been providing our community with everything from primary care treatment to highly specialized care services and robotic assisted surgeries.
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