Harmony test, also called Non-invasive Prenatal test is a test carried out in women to check for the risk of carrying a baby with any chromosomal conditions like trisomies 21, 18 or 13.

This test uses cell-free DNA in the maternal blood and gives a strong indication of whether the fetus is at high risk or low risk of having trisomy 21, 18 or 13. These trisomies stand to represent different conditions. Trisomy 21 is Down syndrome, trisomy 18 is Edward syndrome, while trisomy 13 is Patau syndrome.

Trisomy is the presence of three copies of a particular chromosome in an organism, instead of the normal two. In humans, there are 23 pairs of chromosomes, and everyone has a total of 46 chromosomes. In trisomy, instead of the usual two in a pair of chromosomes, they become three. This mostly occurs in chromosomes 21, 18 or 13.

  • Trisomy in chromosome 21 (Down syndrome) has been discovered in about 1 in 700 births. The risk further increases with the advancement in the age of the mother. The condition is diagnosed as intellectual disability and some physical defects. It can also include heart abnormalities and disorder. The average life expectancy of those affected is about 60 years.
  • Trisomy in chromosomes 18 (Edwards syndrome) and 13 (Patau syndrome) is found in about 1 in 7000 births. The risk is also greater when the mother is older. The conditions are associated with severe mental handicap and physical defects. Most affected individuals usually die even before birth or soon after, but they rarely survive the first year of their lives.

This test is therefore aimed at checking for these chromosomal abnormalities at the foetal stage.

Taking the test

Taking the harmony test is not a complex case as much is not involved. Once you decide to take the test, you will be asked to sign a consent form by a well-trained member of the medical field. A blood sample is taken from the mother. When a woman is pregnant, fragments of the baby’s DNA is present in the mother’s blood. Through this test, the DNA of the baby present in the mother’s blood is analysed, to check for any abnormalities of the chromosomes.

The blood sample is collected from a vein in your arm. This may cause some discomfort, but it usually subsides. This test can be taken as early as 10 weeks into the pregnancy, and the results will be sent to your healthcare provider. It usually takes 3 steps from the test to the result stage.

  • The blood sample is taken
  • The sample is taken to the harmony lab for analysis
  • Results are sent to your healthcare provider within 5 – 7 days from collection of the blood sample.

Who can take the test?

The harmony pre-natal test is designed for any and every woman of any age or risk category. It has been used to test women of ages under 35 and above 35. It has also included pregnant women of ages 18 – 48.

What are the likely results of a harmony test?

A harmony test result will either show a high risk of trisomy 21, 18 or 13 in the foetus, or low risk. However, the high risk does not mean that the foetus definitely has the condition. There are other tests to confirm whether the foetus has the condition or not.

A low risk signifies that it is unlikely that the foetus has the defects.

Why Harmony test?

The benefits associated with harmony test which mainly includes chromosomal conditions as early as 10 weeks in the pregnancy has made it a well-accepted procedure worldwide. Over 1 million pregnancies have been screened with harmony tests. There are other invasive testing procedures available such as amniocentesis. But with harmony tests, greater accuracy and chances for these further testing have reduced greatly. The harmony test was compared to another test, known as First Trimester Combined Screening, and it was discovered that the harmony test was significantly better, in terms of better detection rate.

This test is analysed by experts. Your data, comprising of your name, gestational age and date of birth is sent along with your blood sample. Your results will be returned to you, once they have been confirmed, and your blood sample will be discarded.

When do I get the results

The results of the test will be available within two weeks. Your practitioner will notify you once it is ready, and it can be sent to you by phone, email or letter.

In conclusion, harmony pre-natal test is a highly successive test with long term satisfying results.