Last January 17, 2018, the Philippine Society of  Maternal- Fetal Medicine (PSMFM), in cooperation with Natera, had its first workshop on an advancement in prenatal screening, called the Non- Invasive Prenatal Testing (NIPT). Non- Invasive Prenatal Testing is a screening tool which evaluates cell- free DNA of the fetus (fetal fraction), extracted from maternal blood, which can screen various fetal conditions as early as 9-10 weeks age of gestation. It makes use of single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) which can screen  for triploidies such as Down Syndrome, some paternally derived autosomal dominant genetic abnormalities and microdeletions,  and identify fetal gender and vanishing twins.

The workshop was held at the Philippine Obstetrical and Gynecological Society building and was attended by various maternal- fetal medicine specialists from different training institutions, headed by their section chiefs and training officers. This project was made possible through the joint efforts of the PSMFM board of trustees, headed by the President Dr. Leah Rivera and the project coordinator Dr Richard Jordias, Founding President and one of the pillars of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Dr. Walfrido Sumpaico, PSMFM fellow and expert in Molecular Diagnostics in Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Natera’s local Key Opinion Leader, Dr.  Clarissa Velayo.

The workshop was formally opened by Dr. Rivera, who was hopeful that the workshop could help jumpstart the utilization of NIPT in the Philippines. Dr. Sumpaico gave comprehensive overview on the innovative potential of cell free DNA and its importance in perinatal care. Dr. Velayo and Dr. Herman Hedriana, a fellow of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Medical Director of Natera gave high- yield and enlightening lectures on first trimester combined test for aneuploidies, cell free- DNA and to whom should we offer it, recent advances in NIPT and microdeletion testing, role of  NIPT for twins and genetic counselling. The lectures were followed by an insightful open forum, moderated by Dr. Sumpaico. After the workshop, the perinatologists were now aware and knowledgeable about NIPT and were willing to offer this to their patients, especially those who are at- risk. Overall, it was a very productive workshop and we are looking forward to the next one!

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