Down's Syndrome Screening In Pregnancy: DNA Blood Test For Pregnant Women Could Replace Current NHS Screening

Pregnant women could soon be offered a new blood test to find out whether their baby has Down's syndrome.

The blood test, which has been trialled successfully in two hospitals in south east England, studies DNA cells from the mother-to-be's bloodstream. It is now is being considered for introduction across the NHS.

The new test is said to less intrusive than the current screening for Down's syndrome, which carries a risk of miscarriage.

The trial of the new DNA test involved 11,692 women at King’s College Hospital, London and the Medway Maritime Hospital in Kent.

Three in five pregnant women at high risk of carrying a baby with the condition opted for the blood screening rather than the current testing.

Professor Kypros Nicolaides, who led the research, said according to the Mail Online: "We showed it can be integrated into standard NHS care and that women do accept it."

Since the trial was successful, the National Screening Committee will be recommending next month that the DNA test be introduced on the NHS.

The research was published in the journal Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Currently, Down's syndrome screening initially involves ultrasound tests 12 weeks into pregnancy, combined with a test of hormone levels in the blood.

If the risk of Down’s syndrome or two other syndromes - Edward’s syndrome or Patau’s syndrome - is one in 150 or higher, the mother-to-be has the option to choose to undergo a further screening procedure called amniocentesis or choronic villous sampling.

These tests involve inserting a needle into the womb to take samples of the amniotic fluid or the placenta. This test carries a risk of miscarriage, according to the NHS.

Under the new plans, women would be offered the new DNA test as an alternative option - it is said to be more accurate than the current ultrasound and blood tests, but not more accurate than amniocentesis.

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