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Pregnancy blood test, what happens when certain

A simple, quick and inexpensive blood test may soon be all that is required to detect chromosomal abnormalities that lead to conditions like Down’s syndrome.

Dutch researchers are confident that they are on the verge of an accurate procedure that will test the mum’s blood for abnormalities in the foetus. Current methods such as amniocentesis are invasive and run the risk of triggering a miscarriage so this test would be far safer for the baby.

The study is set to continue for two more years and researchers hope to increase its accuracy. “At the moment, the reliability of the test is about 80% due to false negative results, but we are working to improve the accuracy,” said Dr Suzanna Frints who led the study.

The test could be particularly useful for older mums-to-be and those who are at a high risk of an abnormal pregnancy. It could even become a regular part of all ante-natal check ups.

“It is the holy grail of prenatal diagnosis to try and find a reliable method of diagnosing Down’s syndrome and other chromosome abnormalities without doing invasive testing,” Dr Suzanna explained, but added that it was “important to emphasise that it is some years away”.

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