Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing (NIPT) for Down’s syndrome will be introduced in Wales as part of the antenatal screening programme.
The test, which consists of taking a blood sample, will be offered as part of the screening pathway for women who accept primary screening or have been assessed as being a higher risk of Down’s, Edwards’ or Patau’s syndrome.
Currently, the antenatal screening programme in Wales offers pregnant women a number of primary screenings for certain conditions that may affect the woman or baby, including a screening that shows the probability of having a baby with Down’s syndrome.
If the screening results come back higher than 1 in 150, women are considered to have a higher chance of having a baby with Down’s syndrome.
Currently, women are offered an invasive diagnostic test that carries a small risk of suffering a miscarriage.
The proposed NIPT will be offered as an additional option to this invasive diagnostics test.
Social Services and Public Health Minister, Rebecca Evans, said: “We want to ensure every pregnant mother in Wales receives the information, advice and support they need throughout their pregnancy.
“The Welsh Government has accepted the recommendations made by the UK National Screening Committee and the Wales Screening Committee to introduce Non-invasive Prenatal Testing as an additional option for women identified as higher chance for Down’s, and to add screening for Edward’s and Patau’s syndrome and screening in twin pregnancies within the screening pathway in Wales.”
The NIPT test will be rolled out during 2018, with training and development of health care professionals, alongside patient information, already underway.
“NIPT is more accurate than the current primary tests. A negative NIPT result will offer pregnant women the reassurance they need, without the need for a further invasive diagnostic test – reducing the unnecessary harm from miscarriage that can be caused through these tests,” Rebecca Evans added.
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