“We are developing the most advanced technologies to solve some of the most ancient of afflictions—infertility and pregnancy loss,” says study leader Dr. Zev Williams, the Wendy D. Havens Associate Professor of Women’s Health and chief of the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center and Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons. “Our hope is that this test will help improve women’s health, lower costs, and improve access to treatment.”
The chromosomal abnormalities that this test can detect are, by far, the most common causes of miscarriage, structural anomalies, and developmental delays. Prenatal genetic testing is recommended for pregnant people who are age 35 or older, have a family history of genetic disorders, or have had one or more miscarriages. It is also used increasingly during in vitro fertilization (IVF) to test embryos prior to implantation to improve the chances of pregnancy and reduce the risk of miscarriage.
Like currently available prenatal genetic tests, the new test examines tissue from a biopsy of the placenta or IVF embryo to determine if it has a normal number of chromosomes. With current tests, however, samples obtained in a doctor’s office must be shipped to a specialized laboratory that either grows cells in a dish or uses expensive technology to analyze DNA, adding to the time and cost.