Causes & Treatment

Black mothers are under-served by the healthcare system – can better access to NIPS help?

Kristina Lopez  |   27 Apr 2023

In the United States, racial disparities in healthcare access are a major crisis. This is especially true when it comes to maternal health and reproductive rights. Black women are up to four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than their White counterparts. Similarly, American Indian/Alaska Native women have significantly higher rates of maternal mortality compared to other racial groups. Hispanic women are also twice as likely to experience serious pregnancy complications. The reasons behind the many disparities in the U.S. are multifaceted and complex. 

The reality is there are numerous fertility and maternity healthcare issues that lead to undiagnosed or untreated conditions that harm both the birthing parent and the baby. Though recent technology has transformed fertility screening, women in minority groups face significant barriers to accessing it in the United States. Even as a high-income nation, the U.S. has the worst rates of maternal and infant health outcomes. Failing to acknowledge those barriers perpetuates institutional marginalization and impedes reproductive autonomy. 

Thankfully, these concerning statistics cannot dismiss the progress being made.

One way to start improving those statistics on pregnancy-related deaths and serious complications is through better prenatal care, including access to early testing. Juno Diagnostics has an entire suite of services, including at-home prenatal screenings and genetic counseling. You can get next-level care in a way that’s convenient for you. They are committed to improving prenatal care and diagnosis for everyone, regardless of race or socioeconomic status.

Juno Diagnostics prenatal testing NIPS lab

Early pregnancy testing and NIPS in a nutshell

Early pregnancy testing and Non-Invasive Prenatal Screening (NIPS) have revolutionized the way we approach fertility healthcare and childbirth. Here’s what you need to know:

Early pregnancy testing can detect the presence of pregnancy hormones as early as a few days after conception, which has made it possible for expecting parents to confirm their pregnancy and begin prenatal care early on.

NIPS, on the other hand, involves a simple blood test to screen for chromosomal abnormalities in the fetus as early as 9 to 10 weeks into your pregnancy. While NIPS provides screening-level (non-diagnostic) information for specific genetic conditions, it is an increasingly popular screening choice for expectant parents seeking highly accurate prenatal genetic information without an associated risk of pregnancy loss. Prenatal procedures like chorionic villus sampling (CVS) and amniocentesis, on the other hand, provide diagnostic information in pregnancy but are linked to a small chance for pregnancy complications, including miscarriage. With NIPS, parents can obtain early prenatal screening for common chromosome conditions and use this information to make an informed decision about whether to pursue an invasive procedure like CVS or amniocentesis.

The new-gen products helping minority women and birthing moms during early pregnancy

Early detection of potential genetic conditions can help birthing parents in minoritized groups prepare and be better informed during pregnancy, birth, and beyond.

Juno Diagnostics offers improved access with their clinical quality Juno Hazel NIPS home testing kits. The cutting-edge technology uses a small amount of blood from a finger prick instead of a traditional blood draw, which is both convenient and safe to do at home.

You can even choose between two kits:

  • The Hazel NIPS screens for trisomy 21, 18, and 13, and can reveal the sex of your baby.
  • The Hazel Plus NIPS also screens for trisomy 21, 18, 13, and fetal sex but goes further to identify conditions involving different numbers of X or Y chromosomes than expected – conditions called sex chromosome aneuploidies.

Because underlying biases against Black, Hispanic, and Indigenous women exist within the healthcare system, learning about potential health risks for both mother and baby during pregnancy can help in receiving the necessary care. This is especially true for birthing parents with limited access to healthcare.

Juno Diagnostics NIPS home testing kit woman

Addressing the issue of maternity care deserts

Juno Diagnostics is focused on providing equitable access to care for people within maternity care deserts. These areas have limited access to comprehensive and quality prenatal care in the U.S., leading to adverse outcomes for up to 6.9 million women and nearly 500,000 births. They’re typically in rural and under resourced areas, which means communities of color can be especially impacted.

The socioeconomic imbalances that women face before, during, and after pregnancy need tangible solutions to help reduce racial disparities in birth outcomes in the United States – this includes easier access to both early pregnancy testing and NIPS, especially within underserved communities.

With Juno, you can get the support you need without worrying about expensive screenings or unavailable appointments. Whether you live in a smaller community or a larger metropolitan area, you simply order online to get your kit and get the results from your at-home collected sample delivered directly to your myJuno online account. 

Juno’s mission is to change the landscape of prenatal care by leading with transparency to improve access and affordability for everyone. The Hazel Juno NIPS test kits and the Juno Birch Fetal Gender Test were created with a team of leading scientists, medical doctors, and engineers.

Fertility and pregnancy care seem to be both a personal journey and an ongoing struggle. Thankfully, companies like Juno Diagnostics are making a difference with at-home access to early non-invasive prenatal screenings (NIPS).

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