A simple pregnancy blood test to identify Down’s Syndrome in unborn babies, will be both more effective and safer than the invasive tests used currently.
Researchers have found that the test, which also tests for other chromosomal disorders, analyses DNA in the mother’s blood. The new study shows the test is more accurate than current procedures, such as amniocentesis and CVS, with no false negatives (when the test doesn’t detect the disorder).
Current tests for Down’s syndrome are invasive (they require blood to be taken from the foetus) and carry a 1 in 100 risk of causing a miscarriage. The ability to determine chromosomal abnormalities without needing to go near the foetus would be far safer for mum and baby.
“It is the holy grail of prenatal diagnosis to try and find a reliable method of diagnosing Down’s syndrome and other chromosome abnormalities without doing invasive testing,” said Dr Suzanna, the study leader.
However, much research and development is still needed, with scientists working on increasing its accuracy. It’s thought it could be up to ten years before the test becomes readily available to pregnant women.
“This is a technique that could offer the potential to diagnose Down’s syndrome non-invasively but it’s important to emphasise that it is some years away,” Dr Suzanna explained.
If you have any concerns or are planning to undergo the current test for Down’s syndrome our NHS guide explains what to expect.