If you are currently expecting a baby, then several unanswered questions might be bothering you, including the fear of having a baby with malformations.
This is especially true for those who already have children born with disorders.
This is where a harmony test comes in handy, a type of noninvasive prenatal screening test.
What is a harmony test?
This is a noninvasive prenatal screening test (NIPT) offered in Singapore that uses blood samples from the mother to analyze the risk of chromosomal abnormalities.
Chromosomal abnormalities are genetic disorders that will affect how your child will look or behave. Genes, on the other hand, are hereditary materials that determine how you look and behave, while chromosomes are the structures inside your body within which the genes are stored.
A normal human being has 46 chromosomes, 23 from the mother and another 23 from the father.
The most common chromosomal abnormalities are trisomies. Trisomy simply means that you have 3 copies of the same chromosome instead of two, which means that you received one copy from one parent and two copies from the other parent. You then end up with a total of 47 chromosomes instead of the standard 46.
So trisomy 21 is called Down syndrome, trisomy 18 is called Edwards syndrome, and trisomy 13 is Patau syndrome.
What is the Procedure for a Harmony Test?
The test analyzes cell-free fetal DNA in maternal blood. The cell-free fetal DNA refers to the genes from the fetus which have been passed into the mother’s blood.
Usually, no fetal genes should be found in the mother’s blood, and therefore this will be considered abnormal.
It is usually done as early as 10 weeks into the pregnancy. It screens for chromosomal anomalies like Downs syndrome (trisomy 21), Edwards syndrome (trisomy 18) and Patau syndrome (trisomy 13).
Harmony test can also identify the sex of your baby. It can be done for a singleton pregnancy, twin pregnancy, as well as IVF (including egg donor) pregnancies.
Taking the test involves three steps:
1) The doctor obtaining a blood sample from you from 10 weeks of gestation onwards.
2) Your blood samples being sent to the lab for analysis of the fetal DNA.
3) Test results coming back after 10-14 working days
How Accurate is the Harmony Test?
Well, the test has an accuracy of 99% in determining the presence of downs syndrome, more than 97% accuracy in identifying trisomy 18, and more than 92% accuracy in identifying trisomy 13 according to a study done.
How Do I Interpret My Results?
Your results can classify you as either high risk, low risk, or no result.
High risk means there is more than 1:10,000 chance of chromosomal abnormality, while low risk means there is less than 1:10,000 chance of chromosomal abnormality occurring, but it cannot be ruled out completely.
No result means no sufficient samples were taken or other technical errors occurred while taking the samples.
What’s Next if I have a High Risk Result?
More tests will be ordered to confirm your diagnosis. An OSCAR test can be done from 11 weeks to screen for any anomalies.
If these still turn out to be positive, then more invasive tests such as chorionic villus sampling or amniocentesis can be ordered by your doctor.
Chorionic villus sampling entails passing a needle through your womb to a part of your placenta (the structure through which blood and oxygen reach the baby) called the chorionic villi to obtain a bit of it for chromosomal abnormalities testing.
Amniocentesis, on the other hand, entails passing a needle through your womb to obtain samples of the fluid that surrounds the baby (amnion), which will be tested for the presence of chromosomal abnormalities.
How much does Harmony Test cost in Singapore?
If you plan to take this test with your gynae, the price of harmony test in Singapore ranges between $800 – $1400.
Why Should I Take the Harmony Test?
Other than the fact that you’ll have peace of mind if your baby is not at any risk, it has a high accuracy rate, and it is done earlier in the pregnancy, allowing you and your partner to make sound decisions regarding the pregnancy.
It is also noninvasive as it only entails taking blood samples from your arm; hence chances of a miscarriage are minimized.
Lastly, it can be used for a singleton, twin pregnancies as well as IVF and egg donor pregnancies.
Make an informed choice
With so many prenatal screening tests available in Singapore, you now have the chance to know the direction your pregnancy is taking so you can make relevant decisions and plans.
A harmony test has an accuracy of 99%, and that means that you can trust the results to give you an accurate picture of your pregnancy.
Whether you already have a child with chromosomal abnormality or merely want to put your mind at ease, all you need to do is visit your doctor for a scan.
You’ll also receive relevant counseling and guidance, whatever your results may be.
And the best part, you are kept in the loop early in your pregnancy, which will give you the required awareness and comfort.