The Harmony prenatal blood test is available for pregnant women at GCRM from week 10 of pregnancy.

Please call us on 0141 891 8749 if you would like to find out more about this test or if you would like to book an appointment.

What is the Harmony prenatal test?

Professor Alan Cameron introduced The Harmony prenatal blood test to Scotland in February 2013. He works closely with the American based company and their laboratory in London. The Harmony prenatal blood test is available for pregnant women at GCRM from week 10 of pregnancy, and is carried out by Professor Cameron, or GCRM’s clinical team as advised by Professor Cameron. Please note, it is essential that an early pregnancy scan is carried out prior to having the Harmony Test. This can be be performed at GCRM if required.

Harmony Testing is a non-invasive prenatal testing that can be carried out after 10 weeks of pregnancy. It is a blood test that analyses the DNA from the fetus that circulates in the mother’s blood. Cell-free DNA (cfDNA) results from the natural breakdown of fetal cells (presumed to be mostly placental) and clears from the maternal system within hours of giving birth. This test has no risk to the baby and is almost 100% accurate.

During a pregnancy, cfDNA can be tested to give the most accurate screening approach in estimating the risk of a fetus having a common chromosome condition sometimes called a trisomy. This occurs when there are three copies of a particular chromosome instead of the expected two. The test looks to detect the following trisomies:

  • Trisomy 21 is the most common trisomy at the time of birth. Also called Down’s syndrome, it is associated with moderate to severe intellectual disabilities and may also lead to digestive disease, congenital heart defects and other malformations
  • Trisomy 18 (Edwards syndrome) and Trisomy 13 (Patau syndrome) are associated with a high rate of miscarriage. These babies are born with severe brain abnormalities and often have congenital heart defects as well as other birth defects. Most affected individuals die before or soon after birth, and very few survive beyond the first year of life.
  • Sex chromosome conditions. The sex chromosomes (X and Y) determine whether we are male or female. X and Y chromosome conditions occur when there is a missing, extra, or incomplete copy of one of the sex chromosomes. This test may not be applicable to everyone and should be discussed with a consultant. This option is not available for twin pregnancies.

What are the benefits of the Harmony test?

The Harmony test offers near total accuracy in diagnosing chromosomal conditions such as Down Syndrome. When compared to standard nuchal testing options, the Harmony test is almost 10% more accurate in the diagnosis of Down’s. Although prenatal screening tests can carry a false negative/positive ratio, the Harmony test has virtually no false negative/positive rate. What’s more, as the Harmony test is non-invasive it poses no risk to the fetus, unlike other invasive tests such as in amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling (CVS). Although the Harmony test is highly accurate in the diagnosis of several key chromosomal conditions, it does not rule out all fetal abnormalities.

Is there any risk to my un-born baby?

The testing is non-invasive: it involves taking a blood sample from the mother. The pregnancy is not put at risk of miscarriage, or from other adverse outcomes that are associated with invasive testing procedures such as amniocentesis.

Who is the Harmony test suitable for?

The Harmony test is suitable for a wide range of pregnancies. For women undergoing IVF treatment, or having a child in later life, a prenatal test that offers near 100% accuracy in the diagnosis of congential conditions can provide great reassurance. The Harmony test is suitable for:

  • All singleton pregnancies including IVF pregnancies
  • Twins if conceived naturally
  • Twins by IVF if using patient’s own eggs

The Harmony test can also be used to sex your baby, this part of the test is suitable for:

  • Singleton pregnancies only (not twins)
  • All IVF singleton pregnancies regardless of whether the egg is provided by a donor or patient.

Professor Alan Cameron MD FRCOG FRCP (Glasgow)

Alan Cameron has been a consultant obstetrician in Glasgow for 24 years. He undertook his subspecialty training in Maternal Fetal Medicine in the University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. After this he was appointed Lecturer in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology in Glasgow. He has retained an active research profile and he was rewarded with an Honorary Professorship from the University of Glasgow in 2007. His main research interests are in prenatal diagnosis and fetal therapy. He was Scottish Members representative on RCOG Council from 1996-2002 and was President of the British Maternal and Fetal Medicine Society from 2005-08. As a former chair of the RCR/RCOG standing joint committee he helped develop the current RCOG Ultrasound training modules. In 2008 he was elected as the Scottish Fellows representative on RCOG Council and was reelected in 2011. He chaired the Scottish Committee of the RCOG from 2009- 13. He is the RCOG representative on the National Screening Committee and is involved in various projects with the Fetal Anomaly Screening Programme. He was the local President when the European Board of Obstetrics and Gynaecology took place in Glasgow in 2014. In 2013 he was elected to the position of Vice President for clinical quality at the RCOG. He is the co principal investigator of the flagship RCOG project ‘Each Baby Counts’. Alan demitted the office of Vice President at the RCOG in October 2016 but has been retained as senior clinical advisor to the Lindsay Stewart Centre at the RCOG, the research and audit office of the RCOG. His NHS clinical practice is at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow where he leads the Ian Donald Fetal Medicine Centre.

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