Noninvasive Prenatal Screening (NIPS) for Fetal Aneuploidies

W. E. Highsmith, M. A. Allyse, K. S. Borowski, M. J. Wick

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Fetuses with trisomy 21, or Down syndrome, can be identified in the first or second trimester of pregnancy using a combination of serum markers in maternal serum and ultrasound findings. The sensitivity and specificity of these modalities is quite good, being in the range of 95%. Recently, several groups have begun to exploit the power of massively parallel sequencing (MPS) to identify prenatal anueploidies in cell-free fetal DNA that is found in the maternal circulation. Although recent court rulings regarding the patent positions surrounding this technology will likely lead to other entities being able to offer this form of testing, including academic institutions, at the time of this writing, four companies have been founded with prenatal detection of fetal chromosome abnormalities as their primary focus and testing is available exclusively (in the United States) through these companies. The sensitivity and specificity of detection for Down syndrome using MPS is markedly superior to serum and ultrasound markers, being greater than 99%. However, it is important to stress to women seeking testing that the specificity of the MPS approach, while very high, is not perfect. This is a screening test and positive results need confirmation with invasive testing (amniocentesis). In this chapter, we review the techniques that each of the currently active US companies are using for noninvasive prenatal screening.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationDiagnostic Molecular Pathology
Subtitle of host publicationA Guide to Applied Molecular Testing
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)9780128008867
ISBN (Print)9780128011577
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016


  • Ariosa
  • Down syndrome
  • Illumina
  • Natera
  • Noninvasive prenatal screening
  • Sequenom
  • cell-free fetal DNA
  • screening
  • trisomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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