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New DNA test for Down's

12th January 2011

A study has shown that a newly created blood test for Down's Syndrome could prevent pregnant women from being given tests such as amniocentesis.

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Around 30,000 pregnant women in the UK are given invasive tests (3-5%) and the tests increase the danger of miscarriage. One in every 100 women who undergo the test will have a miscarriage.

The study, which was published in the British Medical Journal, said the new test could reduce this to 0.1%.

Babies who have Down's Syndrome show an additional copy of chromosome 21, which causes physical changes and learning problems.

The blood test is able to search for the additional chromosome as DNA can move from the placenta to the mother.

According to the most recent study on 753 pregnant women from the UK, the Netherlands and Hong Kong, the need for invasive tests could be reduced by 98%.

Professor Kypros Nicolaides of King's College London, who carried out the research along with teams from The Chinese University of Hong Kong, said many women would welcome the new test.

"Some women, understandably, are fearful of invasive tests. This extra screen is non-invasive and would save many from needing further investigation. Our study shows it is feasible to use in clinical practice."

 

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