Pap smears are obviously important for your health—but a promising study shows they could be used to test your baby for over 6,000 genetic diseases.
A new study suggests that a pap smear could alert you to any genetic disorders your baby may be carrying as early as five weeks into your pregnancy. How amazing is that? So many expectant parents wait nervously throughout large chunks of pregnancy to hear that their babies are healthy—and if this news is any indication, a simple pap smear could help you ease your worries early in your first trimester.
At this point, screening for genetic disorders can't be performed until nine to twelve weeks into pregnancy, at which point relatively invasive testing is administered. This particular study, which was published in Science Translational Medicine, indicate that pap smears can pick up on single-gene mutations, which can lead to infant death, Downs syndrome, and more than 6,000 diseases.
"Genetic disorders that are caused by a certain gene, such as the blood disorders thalassemia and sickle cell anemia, are not common, but still are a major health burden," the researchers wrote. They also pointed out that if these genes are identified, doctors can work to address them early on in pregnancy.
Researchers came to this finding after testing 20 women with pap smears between 5 and 19 weeks gestation. After testing the cells that were obtained, researchers found they were able to analyze the fetus's genetic profiles.
This is a pretty incredible development, but let's not forget that methods like this require testing and time before they are actually implemented. Let's just cross our fingers and hope this breakthrough materializes!