Experts say the new non-invasive prenatal test (NIPT) could prevent needless miscarriages and replace the current procedure of inserting a needle into the womb to detect Down’s Syndrome.
According to The Telegraph, the current procedure causes 1 in 100 miscarriages each year, some of which could have been born healthy.
Under new recommendations, women who have a high risk of having a baby with Down’s Syndrome, Patau’s or Edward’s Syndrome, should be offered the new simple blood test.
The non-invasive prenatal testing requires taking a blood sample from the pregnant woman and looking for DNA belonging to the child.
Great Ormond Street Hospital, London, published results last year which showed the test for Down’s Syndrome was 99% safe.
Following the report, the non-evasive prenatal test has been called “the most exciting development in pregnancy care for decades”.
Professor of Genetics and Fetal Medicine at the UCL Institute of Child Health and Great Ormond Street Hospital and the lead for RAPID NIPT evaluation study, Lyn Chitty said: “Introducing NIPT into NHS maternity care means that more women can be safely assured about the health of their baby without having an invasive test which increases the risk of miscarriage.
“It also means more women and their partners will be given information that allows them to make choices about their pregnancy that are best for them.”
Practice and Standards Professional Advisor at The Royal College of Midwives, Mervi Jokinen added: “Screening during pregnancy can be an anxious time for the parents when they decide on screening tests offered. The RCM works with UK Screening Committee to ensure that quality and availability of screening in pregnancy and postnatally is of highest standard with clear information and choice. Screening is always an individual choice for women and their partners and midwives will discuss that what information can or cannot be obtained from screening tests to support their decision-making.”
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