Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

‘More accurate’ Down's test considered for NHS

  • 1 Comment

Researchers are launching a study to see whether a more accurate test for Down’s syndrome should be offered to pregnant women on the NHS.

The study will be carried out at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in London and could result in a recommendation that women receive the test early in pregnancy.

Non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) can predict with 99% accuracy whether a baby has Down’s but is currently only available in private hospitals.

The blood test detects a baby’s genetic material and does not carry any risk of miscarriage like current invasive tests.

At present, testing for Down’s involves a combination of an ultrasound scan of the baby and a blood test for the mother.

Experts then estimate a woman’s chance of having a baby with Down’s.

Those found to be at higher risk can opt for invasive tests - amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling.

Both carry a one in 100 risk of miscarriage.

The new NIPT also screens for the rare genetic conditions Edward’s syndrome and Patau syndrome.

Lyn Chitty, professor of genetics and foetal medicine at Great Ormond Street and lead investigator, said: “This study will look at whether NIPT can improve the safety and accuracy of screening for Down’s syndrome.

“At present, pregnant women who are shown to be at a higher risk of having a baby with Down’s syndrome are offered invasive follow-up tests which carry a risk of miscarriage.

“It is hoped that the introduction of NIPT will reduce the number of these invasive tests, while detecting more cases of Down’s syndrome than we currently do.

“We will also evaluate the views, opinions and experiences of women and health professionals.

“One of the very important aspects of our study is looking at ways to ensure women understand the test and the implications of the results so that they can choose whether or not to have it.”

The study, which starts this month, is funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and has been developed in close collaboration with the UK National Screening Committee (UK NSC).

About 750 babies with Down’s syndrome are born in the UK each year.

  • 1 Comment

Readers' comments (1)

  • More positive tests=more abortions and what about the 1 in 100 false results. I know personally women who have been tested, iinvasively and told the baby was Down's Syndrome but they went ahead with pregnancy and received very cold treatment from the staff. Their babies were born normal. Abnormality should NOT carry the death penalty, i.e baby torn from, what should be the safest place, it's mothers womb

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.