Washington, US (BBN)-Prenatal blood testing is a routine procedure for pregnant mothers and it helps to determine risks of chromosome disorders or Down syndrome in the fetus, but a new study has revealed that it may also help detect undiagnosed cancer in mothers.
The surprising finding was determined by scientists who studied eight women who were told of their abnormal results from the blood tests, reports HNGN.
The babies in their wombs were normal, although, the experts saw some anomalies on their DNA. These anomalies were linked to cancer, reports CBS News.
The researchers studied records from the company Illumina, which offers prenatal testing.
They found 3,700 abnormal results, but 10 of these cases were reported to have received cancer diagnosis from their doctors during or after their pregnancies.
They sought permission from these women to further study their chromosomes, where the experts found more abnormalities.
Marin Mejia was bleeding during her pregnancy and thought that this was due to hemorrhoids.
Her blood test later confirmed she had anal cancer. Her doctor later told her this was in the advanced stages and the cancer has spread to her lymph nodes and lungs.
Her son was delivered at 32 weeks, so that Marin could begin chemotherapy and radiation.
Danielle Bryant was told that her baby was fine and had no defects based on the blood test.
However, she prematurely gave birth to a healthy son, Rhys, in 2013, as she had been suffering different health problems during the pregnancy.
The blood test later revealed a cancer was developing in her colon, according to Washington Post.
“If there is cancer, the tumor is shedding DNA into the mother’s blood as well and that is what is accounting for this imbalance,” said Diana Bianchi of the Mother Infant Research Institute, the lead author to the study.
“A concern that I’ve had is that in the pre-test counseling process there isn’t enough attention paid to the fact the test detects abnormalities in the mother and the placenta.
Part of consenting to the test, is that you have to be aware this is a possibility,” she added.
Bianchi and her team, however, stressed that the popular procedure is not meant to screen cancer.
Instead, their findings should help doctors and their pregnant patients.
“We need to do a better job up front to communicate with patients that we might find out something about their own health as well,” she said, according to Technology Review.