While a new prenatal test for Down’s syndrome being marketed as Prena Test has hit several European markets, controversy continues to rage over whether it could lead to more abortions.
The product, manufactured by German life sciences company LifeCodex has already hit Germany and several other European markets. According to the company’s statement: The product “is targeted exclusively toward women in their 12th week of pregnancy and beyond who are at an increased risk” of delivering infants with Down’s Syndrome.
The product, manufactured by German life sciences company LifeCodex, has already hit Germany and several other European markets. According to the company’s statement: The product “is targeted exclusively toward women in their 12th week of pregnancy and beyond who are at an increased risk” of delivering infants with Down’s syndrome.
The test is designed to screen pregnant women’s blood samples for the presence of trisomy 21 or foetal Down’s syndrome and has attracted the attention of right groups concerned with abortions. Earlier in June this testing was object at the European Court of Human Rights by the international federation of Down’s syndrome organizations.
The federation, a grouping of 30 associations in 16 countries is vehemently opposed to foeticide, and wants the Strasbourg court to “recognise the human condition and protect the right to life of people with Down's syndrome and those handicapped.” However, Switzerland gave the test green light in July.
According to LifeCodex, their procedure is a "risk-free alternative to common invasive examination methods such as amniocentesis."
Apart from Germany and Switzerland, the test is currently also available in Austria and Liechtenstein.
Down’s syndrome is an abnormality that affects one in 800 babies born in the U.S. It is caused by an extra chromosome for a total of 47 instead of 46 chromosomes. Although no one knows the cause of DS, what is known is that infants born to women over 30 or 35 are at an increased risk and by the age 40, the risk increases by 1 to 100.
Currently, two types of tests for DS are available – screening tests and diagnostic tests. Screening tests inform the chances of a woman to have a baby with DS. The test is not conclusive but it helps a woman decide whether to or not to go for a diagnostic tests such as CVS and amniocentesis. Diagnostic tests, however, give a definitive result but they also carry a slight risk of miscarriage.
As against the diagnostic tests, the new prenatal test, known as the prena test, is a risk-free alternative which explains their huge popularity growing by the day but raising the concerns of the rights group at the same time.