New Down’s syndrome test for pregnant women
The NHS will soon be offering a new DNA blood test for pregnant women to determine whether or not their baby has Down’s syndrome. The new test will be safer than the current tests that are available to women which carry the risk of miscarriage.
Existing tests involve women between 11 and 14 weeks having a combined test made up of a blood test and ultrasound scan. If a woman has a greater risk than one in 150 of having a baby with Down’s syndrome, they are offered the chance to have one of two invasive diagnostic tests. However both tests carry a one in 100 chance of miscarriage as a sample from the woman’s womb has to be taken with a needle.
Because of this it is thought that the National Screening Committee (NSC) will recommend that an alternative DNA blood test should be offered to women on the NHS, as it is currently only available privately. The cell-free DNA test is set to be highly reliable and will help to improve the performance of screening and avoid unnecessary miscarriages as a result of invasive tests.