Non-Invasive Prenatal Diagnosis (NIPD)

Reviewed by Traci C. Johnson, MD on December 17, 2020

Who Gets the Test?

NIPD is a new type of genetic test that screens for birth defects and inherited diseases.  Many experts think that it will become a standard test someday, replacing other, riskier screening tests.

What the Test Does

Up until a few years ago, the only way to check your baby's DNA was to take a direct sample of your baby's amniotic fluid, blood or placental tissue. You would need amniocentesis or CVS. Both have a small risk of causing miscarriage or complications.

NIPD takes a different approach. It tests the small amount of your baby's DNA that's naturally found in your own blood. NIPD can check it for birth defects such as Down syndrome, trisomy 13 and 18, as well as inherited diseases such as cystic fibrosis, hemophilia, and other conditions. It can also show whether your baby is a boy or a girl.

NIPD is much more accurate than similar screening tests with nuchal translucency, such as the blood test in the first trimester screening or the quad test. Because the results seem to be so accurate, the test could spare many women from invasive procedures, such as amniocentesis or CVS.

How the Test Is Done

NIPD is a simple blood test. There's no risk to you or your baby. A technician will draw a small sample of blood from your arm.

What to Know About Test Results

If your NIPD is negative, your baby has a low risk of these birth defects. If it's positive, your doctor may recommend further tests. These could include ultrasounds, CVS, or amniocentesis.

How Often the Test Is Done During Your Pregnancy

Once, between 10 and 22 weeks of pregnancy, but it's available any time after 9 weeks depending on the lab. The test is available to all women, but routinely covered by insurance for women 35 years or older and women at high risk for genetic abnormalities.

Other Names for This Test

Cell-free fetal DNA in the maternal circulation, fetal DNA testing

Tests Similar to This One

Triple screen, quad screen, 1st trimester screening

Show Sources


UptoDate: "Prenatal diagnosis using cell-free fetal nucleic acids in maternal blood."

Mark I. Evans MD, Professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, New York, N.Y.

James D. Goldberg MD, medical director, San Francisco Perinatal Associates, San Francisco.

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