Prenatal Testing Can Ease Minds Or Heighten Anxieties

Prenatal Testing Can Ease Minds Or Heighten Anxieties

It wasn't hard for Shara Watkins to get pregnant. It was hard for her to stay pregnant.In 2016, she was devastated by two miscarriages. With the help of several medications, she successfully carried a child last year.To get more news about expanded screen, you can visit official website.

Shara and her husband, Robert, were elated when she reached her second trimester, the phase when the highest risk of miscarriage subsides.Unfortunately the San Mateo, Calif., couple's struggles continued.

Shara spent four months of her pregnancy on bedrest. When their doctor offered extensive genetic testing to check the health of their fetus, the couple leaped at the opportunity. Shara had a history of rare disease in her family.

"I had a high-risk pregnancy, and there had been a lot of complications prior to this," says Shara. "And, so I just wanted to have all the information that I could."In the past, doctors may have screened parents for a few suspect diseases common to their specific ethnicity or family history. But now a growing number of companies offer extensive panels testing for hundreds of rare diseases.

"Over the last 10 to 20 years the number of genetic disorders that we are able to test for has exploded," says Dr. Mary Norton, a prenatal geneticist at University of California, San Francisco.Silicon Valley is a hotbed for companies vying for the business of concerned future parents. The prenatal genetic testing industry is projected to grow nearly 30 percent over the next five years.

A wide variety of tests are now available to screen both fetus and parents. One option that's rapidly growing in popularity is called an expanded carrier screening.About a dozen lab companies, most based in the San Francisco Bay Area, can scan a patient's blood or saliva for hundreds of conditions that their child could inherit.

A perfectly healthy parent can pass along an autosomal recessive disease like cystic fibrosis or Tay-Sachs, if their partner is also a carrier for the disease. When both parents have a mutated version of the same gene, then their child is at an increased risk for developing a condition."In these types of diseases, 80 percent of the time there's no family history," says Jim Goldberg, chief medical officer of Myriad Women's Health. Norton agrees that family history is not a very sensitive screening tool. The ideal time to take a carrier screening is prior to conception because in vitro fertilization is still a possibility.If both parents are found to be carriers of the same disease, IVF allows doctors to ensure a healthy fertilized egg by genetically screening the embryos before conception.

The tests must be prescribed by a doctor and screening panels vary widely in price. For example, a call to the customer service line for Myriad Genetics' lab in South San Francisco led to a price quote of $1,599 for patients who don't have insurance.But if you pay within 45 days, the price drops to $349. Shara and Robert paid about $600 out of pocket for their two screening panels from a Bay Area company called Natera. The company charged their insurance about $3,200 for both tests.