Blood test to check unborn babies for Down's syndrome

Blood test to check unborn babies for Down's syndrome

US scientists have developed a new blood test for pregnant women that can detect unborn children with Down’s syndrome without the risk of miscarriage.

It can be used in the ninth week of pregnancy – far earlier than existing methods – and scientists behind it believe the procedure could also prevent hundreds of unborn babies being lost through miscarriages, the Daily Mail reported.

About 30,000 women deemed at high risk of carrying a Down’s baby face the dilemma of whether or not to undergo tests each year.

Currently they are offered a nuchal fold test, which uses ultrasound screening to measure fluid at the back of the foetus’s neck at 11 weeks.

Other existing methods for detecting the condition – which causes physical and learning disabilities and raises the risk of heart disease – are amniocentesis, in which a needle is inserted into the womb to remove amniotic fluid, and chorionic villus sampling, whereby a piece of placenta is taken for genetic testing.