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article imageNew test can predict Down syndrome babies accurately without risk

By Marcus Hondro     Jun 10, 2013 in Health
A new test being developed in England can more reliably tell if an unborn baby has Down Syndrome and do so with no risk to the child. Research on the test is being carried out at King’s College Hospital and University College Hospital in London.
After testing 1005 pregnant women, researchers found that this new method of testing/screening for Down Syndrome, has a false positive rate of just 0.1 percent. That rate is far below the false positive figures for the method of testing for Down Syndrome being used now, between 3 and 4 percent.
A higher false positive rate means more women not carrying a Down Syndrome baby will appear to be possibly carrying one. That leads to more women then taking further tests to determine conclusively if their baby is Down Syndrome. The tests then used are called invasive tests, either chorionic villus sampling (CVS) or amniocentesis. Each of those procedures have about a 1 in 100 chance of causing the mother to miscarry.
Fewer false positives translates to fewer babies being tested by CVS or amniocentesis, which will translate to fewer needless miscarriages occurring.
The new screening method requires only a blood sample from the mother, the currently used method requires both ultra-sound and a blood sample. However, the new test/screening method needs to be studied more extensively with a larger sample size, officials say, before it can be considered ready to supplant the old method.
The results were published in a peer-reviewed journal, 'Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology'.
More about Downs syndrome, downs syndrome baby, gestation for humans, new tests for downs syndrome
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