What is the Early Fetal Test?
The Early Baby Test is a combination of a scan and a blood test, performed during the same appointment at 12-13 weeks of pregnancy.
This package consists of:
- The Early Baby Scan (Early Fetal Anomaly Scan)
- NIPT (Harmony Test)
What is the purpose of the Early Baby Test?
The Early Baby Test is an advanced screening test aimed at detecting the majority of lethal and severe fetal anomalies, specifically targeted towards detecting Down’s Syndrome, trisomy 18 and 13, spina bifida, early severe brain anomalies, severe heart defects, as well as other serious abnormalities.
Why Early Baby Test is better than any other NIPT package?
The main difference of this package is that it aims to screen for both structural and chromosomal abnormalities. Chromosomal anomalies (screened for by NIPT) comprise only 15% of fetal anomalies, while heart defects are the most common.
Additionally, performing the Early Baby Scan just before NIPT during the same appointment is much more cost-effective and gives a clearer image of the baby’s well-being (BOTH structural and chromosomal elements can be examined). If we find something that doesn’t look quite right, we will refer you to the hospital for further assessment and potentially for a more invasive test. Understandably so, babies with lethal anomalies will not benefit from NIPT.
Unfortunately, there have been cases where expensive NIPT, performed at 10 weeks, has indicated a low risk of abnormality, but babies have been diagnosed with severe physical anomalies only a few weeks later.
What is the Early Baby Scan?
As we are experts in early fetal anomaly screening and early detection of fetal anomalies, we have used this clinical and research experience to develop an advanced top-to-toe comprehensive first trimester scan. We have called this brand-new ultrasound examination the Early Fetal Scan or the Early Baby Scan because it is the earliest possible time to examine the baby. By 10 weeks the baby has finished its embryological development and has become a little human. It may be technically possible to perform the Early Baby Scan from 11 weeks; however, we prefer to perform it at 12-13 weeks when the imaging features would be clearer.
How does Early Baby Test work?
- You will be able to book your appointment at 12-13 weeks of pregnancy via our online booking system
- When you arrive to the appointment (scan) you will not need to have a full urinary bladder
- We will first perform the Early Baby Scan and confirm the gestational age and well-being of the baby. We will also perform a top-to-toe examination of the baby’s organs, paying special attention to the heart and brain/spine. Nuchal translucency (NT) thickness will also be assessed.
- We will then inform you of your results and offer you either reassurance or advice for further management. We will also write up your ultrasound report and send you a special access code to view your baby’s images on our secure cloud server
- We will then discuss the Harmony Test (NIPT), making sure you understand what it means to you. You will then be asked to provide a blood sample, for which no preparation is required. A courier will collect the sample from our clinic on the same day or next morning to take to The Doctors Laboratory (TDL) for analysis.
- TDL, which is an advanced laboratory service provider in the UK, will then process your samples as soon as possible. Although this may take a few days (up to one week), we will contact you as soon as we receive the feedback from the laboratory.
Can the tests included in this package exclude all fetal anomalies?
Unfortunately, there is no test or combination of tests that can exclude all fetal anomalies at any stage of pregnancy.
Some anomalies simply will not be visible at an early stage or will develop later on during pregnancy. Therefore, we recommend performing an anomaly scan at 20 weeks to confirm the normal development of the baby.
We also recommend having a Baby Development Scan at 28-34 weeks to exclude anomalies that may manifest after the 20-week anomaly scan.
Although adhering to this scan schedule provides optimal coverage for ensuring the healthy development of your baby, we want to note that no scan, schedule, or test can be 100% accurate in detecting every anomaly.