National Birth Defects Awareness and Prevention Month is observed in January, and it is vital to recognise the intersection of prenatal screening and sexual health.
The two are interconnected, with prenatal screenings important in ensuring the well-being of the expectant parent and their unborn child.
Comprehensive prenatal care involves not only monitoring the physical health of the mother and baby but also fostering open communication about sexual well-being, reducing stigma, and promoting informed decision-making.
Prenatal screenings are conducted during the first and second trimesters and can detect potential chromosomal abnormalities and birth defects.
Timely identification allows healthcare professionals to provide informed guidance and discuss potential interventions.
Typically, during prenatal doctor visits, sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing also occurs because common STIs such as syphilis and human immunodeficiency virus can be transmitted from the parent to child during pregnancy or childbirth.
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This may lead to low birth weight, deformed bones, brain and nerve damage, and even foetal death if left untreated.
Additionally, other common STIs, including chlamydia and gonorrhoea, can cause complications such as pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility if left untreated.
Due to many countries having a declining birth rate, including Canada, the US, the UK, Italy, South Korea, and China, ensuring healthy live births should be at the forefront of health regulations.
This requires a multifaceted approach that includes but is not limited to improved prenatal care, longer parental leave, increased investment in childcare and early education, and government-funded aid for families.
In recent years, GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, has observed a favourable shift towards noninvasive prenatal testing (NIPT) methods over traditional methods due to their high level of sensitivity and specific and noninvasive sampling techniques.
Illustrating this transition, Germany and the UK adopted NIPTs as a contingent screen for high-risk pregnancies in 2021 while Belgium implemented NIPTs as a first-tier screen in 2017.
As these countries lead the way in adopting less-invasive prenatal screening methods, GlobalData anticipates that additional countries will follow suit.
Although GlobalData predicts the total prenatal screening market volume to decrease at a negative compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 1.34% into 2033, the market volume of NIPTs only drops 0.55% due to an increase in NIPT adoption.
Despite the overall market volume predicted to drop in the forecast years, the market value has a CAGR of 1.69% due to the increasing average selling prices.
Moreover, GlobalData anticipates a growth in the market for sexual health tests in the upcoming years.
This projection is based on the rising incidence of these diseases and the implementation of enhanced STI screening protocols by government health sectors.
National Birth Defects Awareness and Prevention Month highlights not just the significance of appropriate prenatal nutrition and testing but also acknowledges the crucial connection between prenatal screening and sexual health.